What is the PLPA?
On June 14, 2021, Governor Abbott signed the Pandemic Liability Protection Act (PLPA) into law, which provides liability protections for healthcare providers, businesses, non-profits, and even schools. The law establishes a high threshold for claimants to file COVID-19 related lawsuits. The plaintiff must be able to prove that the defendant knew and failed to warn the person that COVID-19 contact was possible and failed to alert the plaintiff. The threshold is high because there must be a “flagrant disregard” of established standards and protocols to protect against COVID-19. The plaintiff must also be able to prove that he or she caught the virus at the defendant’s place of business.
How Businesses Should Respond
While businesses are indeed protected by the PLPA, there are still things you can do to help should there be a lawsuit from someone who caught COVID-19 after visiting your business.
Post any regulations you have clearly. Wherever you stand on requiring masks, make sure that your rules are clearly posted.
Encourage social distancing, even if you do not require masks.
Keep your business well-ventilated; open doors or windows if the weather is pleasant.
Keep restrooms well-stocked with soap and towels.
Following basic protocols will help make it less likely that someone will catch COVID-19 in your establishment. Posting some rules and putting the onus of responsibility on your patrons can also help in making it less likely that you will face a lawsuit due to COVID-19 exposure.
What Consumers Should Know
Generally speaking, you are responsible for assessing your own risk when entering any place of business, especially concerning exposure to COVID-19. Due to the new PLPA law, the threshold of liability is very high for businesses, making it much harder for people to sue should they be exposed to COVID-19.
If you are concerned about the virus, do your best to take precautions:
Wear a mask, especially in places where it’s not possible to social distance.
Do not visit crowded shops or restaurants.
Eat outside if you visit a restaurant. Or, eat near an open window.
Wash your hands frequently.
What Comes Next
Be familiar with CDC guidelines and local regulations when it comes to COVID-19. As always, assess your risk when frequenting a business. Proprietors should also assess risk and determine how they may mitigate exposure to COVID-19.
Should you require a lawyer, do not hesitate to reach out to our offices. We can help you navigate the new law, as well as deal with any issues that may arise in regards to liability if someone is exposed to COVID-19.