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Republican bill would limit liability of employers, health care workers

COVID liability

Republican lawmakers have introduced legislation that would limit liability for COVID-19 exposure claims for employers as long as they are following public health guidelines.

S.B. 4317 was introduced in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas). The bill would create liability protection under federal labor and employment laws for employers that comply with coronavirus-related guidance and protect employers from liability for employee injuries that arise from workplace coronavirus testing. The legislation would also protect franchises from being classified as “joint employers” if they provide training, personal protective equipment or other assistance to their franchisees and their workers.

The bill also would limit liability for personal injuries arising from COVID-19 exposure at a school, college, nonprofit, church or business so long as the entity made “reasonable efforts” to comply with public health guidelines.

The legislation would also protect health care providers from liability for providing COVID-19-related care and would set willful misconduct or gross negligence standard for coronavirus-related medical malpractice lawsuits. 

The bill has been sent to the Senate’s Committee on the Judiciary.

Another bill, S.B. 1350, introduced in May, would limit the liability of health care professionals who volunteer to provide disaster-related health care services by amending the Public Health Service Act. That bill has not made it out of committee.

If S.B. 4317 is signed into law, the legislation would cover coronavirus-related injuries from Dec. 1, 2019, through Oct. 1, 2024.

More insurance and workers compensation news on the coronavirus crisis here