A bill protecting Iowa businesses and health care providers from many coronavirus-related lawsuits if they are acting responsibly and with caution was passed by both the Iowa House and Senate and will be sent to the Governor for her signature.
"These Iowans should be protected for their heroism, selflessness, and for doing the right thing during an unprecedented and rapidly evolving situation. That’s what our COVID liability legislation is about. But if there were businesses who failed to keep their workers safe, they can and should be held accountable for their actions. Our legislation ensures that."
-House Speaker Pat Grassley
"If you're an employer or a premises operator or health care professional, and you did your best to keep your people and your property safe based on the public health guidance and best practices at the time, you're OK, and you should not have the threat of litigation hanging over your head."
- Senator Zach Whiting
Iowa businesses acting responsibly and with caution should not be held responsible for spreading the coronavirus if adequate protective measures were in place.
After being shut down for weeks due to COVID-19, many Iowa businesses have started to reopen. Some restrictions are still in place, and businesses have been encouraged to be cautious and responsible in an effort to protect both their consumers and their employees.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 is not easily detectable. Some individuals who are infected show no symptoms. Particulate matter containing the virus can linger in the air or on surfaces for minutes, hours, or even days.
Sanitizing and distancing help to reduce the possible spread of the virus; even the most diligent efforts used by businesses will not eliminate all risks. Lawsuits against companies trying to reopen will curtail the reopening progress. With so many unknowns, companies may be tempted to retreat or hold back on moving forward.
For this reason, it is important that the legislature act to protect Iowa businesses from coronavirus related lawsuits. If an employer is utilizing reasonable safety measures per CDC guidance, they should not have to worry about being sued if an employee or customer contracts the coronavirus. Without this protection, lawsuits could force many business owners out of business, particularly after weathering the financial difficulty of a government-mandated business closure that lasted for weeks.
While it is important for Iowa businesses to act responsibly and with caution, they should not be liable for spreading the coronavirus if adequate protective measures were in place.