Can a Customer Sue Your Business After Contracting COVID-19? – Mitigating Risk In A Pandemic

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You are a small business owner, and you are allowed to re-open your business after the state's stay-at-home order is lifted. You carefully follow every recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and the state public health agency. Yet, you worry that a customer will blame and sue your business if, after visiting, they contract COVID-19.

As of the date of this article, litigation by customers alleging negligence by business owners for exposure to COVID-19 does not appear to have spread beyond the cruise line industry—the firm has written about related class-action cases here. But, whether a business can prospectively limit this liability through a waiver is a common question we are receiving, and, given the uncertainty as to what litigation COVID-19 will generate, a fair one.

If you own or operate a business, the following points should guide whether you ask your customers to assume risks and waive your business' liability relating to COVID-19:

The attorneys at Burke, Warren, MacKay & Serritella, P.C. continue to advise businesses in several industries on COVID-19-related issues, including waivers. Contact our attorneys, including to discuss the efficient drafting and implementation of COVID-19 exculpatory waivers.

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