As small businesses begin to reopen as the coronavirus pandemic subsides, trial lawyers will be lurking nearby. Once Americans return back to work, an avalanche of pandemic-related lawsuits is expected to overwhelm company budgets. Main Street businesses need a liability shield so they have the opportunity to recover.
Small businesses often have tight budgets and additional expenses, like legal fees, could put them in the red. In some cases, these protections could prevent small businesses from going bankrupt after being the target of frivolous legal action.
Protection should be temporary and small in scope.
Individual states are already taking the lead on providing businesses with a defense against lawsuits originating from the pandemic. For example, in Utah, legislation was passed that ensures all individuals and businesses will be immune from litigation based on exposure to the virus on their property, unless misconduct was involved. North Carolina passed similar legislation, except it only applies to businesses that were deemed essential during the pandemic. Other states who have taken steps towards protecting businesses include Wyoming, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Ohio.
Congress is considering similar measures on a national level. While specifics of a bill haven’t been addressed, small business owners are looking for Congress to implement similar protections like those passed in North Carolina. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that without litigation protection, the ability to get back to work will be impacted. Other political leaders agree.
More than 30 million mom and pop shops are the engine of our economy. Preventing businesses from getting back to pre-pandemic operations will harm our economy even more and would postpone a much-needed financial recovery.