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How Do COVID-19 Infection Liability Waivers Work?

As businesses continue to reopen, they’re taking steps to protect themselves from the potential legal risks of operating during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some companies are now requiring customers to sign liability waivers before receiving services. It may be difficult to understand how these waivers work and what their impact will be on customers and employees.

The Current Waiver Situation

A person in a grocery store shopping for tomatoes

COVID-19 liability waivers are intended to limit a customer’s right to file a lawsuit if they get infected during a visit to a business. Hair salons, dental offices, and other companies are requiring people to sign liability waivers before letting them enter the premises. For example, people who went to the rally in Tulsa for President Trump had to agree not to sue the organizers if they contracted the virus.

Blanket Liability Waivers

There have also been calls for temporary blanket liability waivers for businesses that comply with federal and state safety guidelines. In a letter to congressional leaders, a coalition of several Long Island business groups claimed it would be impossible for any company to get rid of the threat of infection completely. Worker unions and other groups argue that allowing a uniform liability waiver will risk employees’ health. If workers are pressured to sign a waiver and return to an unsafe work environment, they won’t be able to file lawsuits to cover their lost wages and medical bills. Edward Steinberg, a partner at Leav & Steinberg LLP, spoke out against COVID-19 liability waivers by saying that “legal loopholes to avoid accountability have never been the answer.”

Customers and Employees Could Still Sue

As more and more businesses require COVID-19 liability waivers, it is crucial to understand that a customer or employee can still sue a company for gross negligence despite signing a waiver. For instance, if a business allows entry to an employee or customer that they knew was recently exposed to the virus, they could still be sued.

Leav & Steinberg is working to protect the rights of people across New York City and the rest of the Tri-state area during this pandemic. We are offering free legal consultations to help you understand your options. To schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys, call 212-766-5222 or contact us online.