Governor Ron DeSantis signed legislation Monday to give businesses and health care providers that have made an effort to follow COVID-19 protection guidelines some protection from lawsuits stemming from the virus. The legislation (SB 72) is the first passed by lawmakers this session to be signed by the Republican governor, and was a top priority for legislators in the wake of the ongoing pandemic. The law went into effect immediately.
Under the measure, plaintiffs suing over COVID contraction must show proof that a defendant deliberately ignored safety measures and would need an affidavit signed by a doctor who affirms that an injury or death caused by COVID-19 was a result of the defendant’s actions.
Liability Protections for Health Care Providers
The liability protections for COVID-19-related claims against a health care provider mainly relate to claims:
· Arising from the diagnosis or treatment of a person for COVID-19;
· The provision of a novel or experimental COVID-19 treatment;
· The transmission of COVID-19; and
· The delay or cancellation of a surgery or medical procedure.
However, a claim by a person other than a patient or resident alleging that the health care provider caused the person to contract COVID-19 may be pursued under the provisions of the bill that primarily relate to claims against persons other than a health care provider.
A COVID-19-related lawsuit against any defendant must be brought within 1 year after a cause of action accrues unless the cause of action occurred before the effective date of the bill. However, if a cause accrues before the effective date of the bill, the plaintiff has 1 year from the effective date of the act to bring the claim.
The bill takes effect upon becoming a law and applies retroactively. However, the bill does not apply in a civil action against a particular defendant if the suit is filed before the bill’s effective date.