The modern world has not seen a public health crisis like COVID-19. Business, commerce, travel, and nearly everything we’ve come to depend on in our daily lives ground to a halt to help stop the spread of a disease that kills without discrimination.
While most of the public was told to stay home and isolate from the outside world, some were forced to remain on the front lines. This includes not only doctors, nurses, and police, but also warehouse workers for companies like Amazon, retail workers, and grocery store employees. There were also workers stuck at sea on cruise lines confined to a crowded ship, afraid of getting sick and unsure when or where they’d be able to dock.
In many ways, COVID-19 has placed a spotlight on society’s many heroes, such as the healthcare workers risking their lives to care for patients and grocery store employees serving the community. However, it has also revealed a less ideal truth, which is that some entities may value their bottom line more than the well-being of their employees, customers, and the general public.
Many of the individuals harmed during the COVID-19 pandemic are holding their employers or other entities responsible for their actions or inaction, whether they failed to provide personal protective gear, failed to create a safe work environment, or took advantage of their customers in some way. As courts begin to reopen, on thing is for certain – you can expect to see the floodgates open on coronavirus-related lawsuits.
A Flood of Litigation in Courts Due to COVID-19
A number of battles are likely about to break out in the court system. Did some companies neglect the safety of their own people, putting their health at risk, to make money? Did companies take advantage of people already struggling to make ends meet in order to maximize their profits? Did companies keep people’s money without delivering on their promise to provide a good or service? These are just a few of the questions that courts may need to tackle as they reopen to a glut of cases stemming from the coronavirus epidemic.
According to just one court, at least 917 federal and state lawsuits have already been filed concerning the coronavirus pandemic. Disasters have always triggered litigation. When a plane crashes, you will inevitably see lawsuits filed on behalf of deceased family members holding anyone from the operator of the craft to the manufacturer responsible for the disaster. After 9/11, lawsuits were filed on behalf of first responders who developed health conditions from their time at Ground Zero.
However, we are in uncharted territory with the coronavirus pandemic. The United States has not seen a disaster on this type of scale, with tens of millions of people out of work, and hundreds of thousands of people dead. There is no way to predict the breadth of this situation or how it will eventually play out in the court system.
Breakdown of Types of Cases in the Courts
What types of cases are in the works, and what can we expect to see making its way through the legal system? There is a wide range of cases that deal with everything from working conditions to price gouging to the health care system and beyond.
Here are just a few of the numerous types of cases courts could be hearing:
Health Care System
- Some front-line workers and unions are alleging that staff members were not provided with the necessary personal protective gear they needed to safely treat patients with COVID-19.
- Nursing homes may be facing a large number of lawsuits as a result of the pandemic. Some claims surround the use and availability of personal protective equipment. Other claims deal with nursing homes not isolating patients or not taking measures to properly prevent the spread of the illness. Wrongful death and negligence lawsuit against these nursing homes may be heading to court.
- Airlines and cruise lines could be facing lawsuits for not refunding customers whose travel plans had to be canceled because of the virus. Many customers are claiming that airlines and other travel companies violated their own terms of service.
- Cruise lines are also facing lawsuits over their handling of the pandemic. Some lawsuits allege that cruise lines hid the danger of the illness from passengers. Other suits claim that cruise lines did not provide protective gear.
- Amazon and Costco are facing lawsuits concerning allegations of price gouging customers.
- Retail workers are organizing lawsuits against companies like Walmart over workplace safety and personal protective gear.
- Meatpacking facilities may face litigation over huge outbreaks of the illness at their plants.
Schools and Universities
- Some universities may be up against lawsuits from students who are demanding refunds on tuition and campus fees after classes went online.
- The CARES Act was supposed to help small businesses stay on their feet. Instead, there are allegations and lawsuits pending that say big banks put their own rules in place and gave that money to their favored clients, rather than the clients that needed it the most.
This is only a sample of the lawsuits that are sure to come, given more time and a greater understanding of just what this pandemic has cost America.
Suing Employers over Workplace Safety
A number of cases boil down to just one thing: employees accusing their employers of not making safety their number one priority. From Amazon to Walmart to the cruise line industry, employees are alleging that they didn’t have the necessary protective equipment to keep themselves safe. However, they were forced to continue working to the detriment of their health, for the betterment of their employer. Only time will tell how these cases play out in the court system.
Talk to a Personal Injury Lawyer About Your Legal Rights
There is a lot of confusion over the coronavirus pandemic right now. Hard-working Americans have questions. Right now, many people feel like those questions are going unanswered. With all of this uncertainty, where can you turn to for help? If you have suffered as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, the law firm of Ruloff, Swain, Haddad, Morecock, Talbert & Woodward, P.C., wants to help.
We are a team of experienced attorneys who are willing to take the time to listen to you and help you understand your legal rights as they pertain to this current crisis. Contact our office for a free case review now. If your life has been impacted by the coronavirus, we want to help you seek the justice you deserve.