What Duty of Care do Business Owners Owe Their Customers During a Pandemic?
Under premises liability law, businesses owe their customers a duty of care. This was always true, but there are added duties during COVID-19. On a practical level, a business owes their customers a duty to keep them safe on the business premises. If a customer is injured or becomes seriously ill because the business owner failed to meet their duty of care by acting negligently, the injured party may be able to sue to recover damages. For example, if a customer contracts Coronavirus after visiting a business that was not following safety guidelines, they may be able to file a personal injury claim.
A personal injury attorney can help the victim by assessing the damages associated with the injury/illness and identifying whether the injury was caused by the business owner’s negligence. The injury lawyer will also assess the value of a potential personal injury claim and gather evidence to build a successful premises liability case.
What duty of care do business owners owe their customers during a pandemic?
Businesses may be feeling nervous about the risk of bringing customers back onto their business premises if they have been shut down to in-person activity since March. The truth is that a business does have a responsibility to provide a safe environment. If a business with in-person foot traffic fails to implement any of the following safety measures, they may be vulnerable to an injury lawsuit if one of their customers gets infected with COVID-19:
- Placing a warning sign on the business website and window warning customers about the risk of contracting Covid-19 in any public space, including their business.
- Following social distancing guidelines to keep employees and customers at least six feet apart by enforcing occupancy limits and placing 6-foot markings on the floor.
- Placing plexiglass panels between customers and employees where appropriate.
- Keeping a log of all customers and employees who come into the business so they can be contacted for contact tracing if needed. You will need their phone number and the date and time they visited.
- Using the contact list to call anyone potentially exposed to the virus.
- Making both an internal and public announcement if an employee tests positive for Coronavirus (while being sure to protect employee privacy).
- Following all local, state and federal health and safety rules and guidelines.
- Immediately closing the business to clean and decontaminate any spaces where the infected employee spent an extended period of time within the last 14 days.
- Prohibiting sick employees from working in person* and informing them that they must quarantine and follow all other public health guidelines.
*Ideally, the business provided paid sick leave for the infected employee.
Seek the help of a personal injury attorney
If you or a loved one was injured because of the negligence of another, contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal rights. Let an experienced accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times larger with the help of a lawyer. Call the personal injury lawyers at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!