Will Florida’s COVID-19 Immunity Shield Law Affect My Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law the so-called “Immunity Shield Law” on March 29, 2021. The statute provides immunity to businesses, governments, as well as healthcare facilities and professionals from lawsuits related to COVID-19.
Florida’s Immunity Shield Law is intended to protect businesses and other entities from liability for COVID-19 lawsuits and limit the number of lawsuits related to the coronavirus crisis.
But can the new law impact your workers’ compensation claim in Florida? Consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney if you have been infected with COVID-19 at work.
How Does Florida’s COVID-19 Immunity Shield Law Work?
According to the COVID-19 Immunity Shield Law, you can recover damages from a business or entity if you:
- Can demonstrate clear and convincing evidence proving that the defendant deliberately disregarded the government-issued health standards or guidance when the cause of action occurred;
- Plead a complaint against the defendant “with particularly” and detailed factual allegations to support the claim; and
- Show a doctor’s signed affidavit stating with a reasonable degree of medical certainty that a COVID-19-related injury or death was the result of the defendant’s conduct.
Requirements Under the COVID-19 Immunity Shield Law
Some notable requirements under the COVID-19 Immunity Shield Law include:
- A plaintiff is entitled to compensation only if they can prove with clear and convincing evidence that the defendant was negligent.
- The statute applies retroactively to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The statute would not apply to claims already filed before its effective date.
- Plaintiffs have only one year to bring a claim against the business or government entity. The clock starts ticking from the date of the injury. Note: The standard statute of limitations for negligence-based cases is four years.
- The defendant may be immune from civil liability if the court determines that it made a good-faith effort to follow the recommended guidelines.
How Does the New Law Affect COVID-19-Related Workers’ Compensation Claims?
Many people thought that Florida’s COVID-19 Immunity Shield Law would affect workers’ compensation claims in the state. However, the new law does not affect the required burden to prove that COVID-19 was sustained in the course and scope of employment.
Even before the Immunity Shield Law became effective, Florida’s workers’ compensation law required clear and convincing evidence for claims filed for work-related injuries and illnesses.
Under Florida’s workers’ compensation law, employees cannot sue their employer for on-the-job injuries unless the injury was caused by the employer’s gross negligence. Thus, if your employer deliberately exposed you to COVID-19, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit against the employer.
The main purpose of Florida’s Immunity Shield Law is to protect employers from civil liability lawsuits filed by workers who allege that they were exposed to coronavirus at work.
Speak with a Tampa Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you believe that you contracted COVID-19 at work, do not hesitate to speak with an attorney to find out how you can seek compensation for the harm caused by the virus. Schedule a consultation with our Tampa workers’ compensation attorneys at Kobal Law to discuss your options. Call 813-873-2440.