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Can Your Hospitality Business Be Held Liable If A Customer Contracts Coronavirus?

As hotels open and cruise ships set sale, hospitality businesses are concerned about their potential liability if customers contract coronavirus. A flurry of lawsuits has been filed against cruise ships by passengers who contracted coronavirus while on board. Under personal injury law, a plaintiff must prove that these ships breached their duty of care. 

Your hospitality business can reduce its personal injury liability risk in coronavirus cases by publicly disclosing risks and complying with hygiene and social distancing standards.

Risk Disclosure 

Cruise ships have been a breeding ground for coronavirus contamination. Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise Line face lawsuits involving passenger and crew illnesses and deaths. If you are running a hotel, health spa, conference retreat, or retirement home with similar occupancy conditions, the risk of coronavirus spreading is higher. 

The CDC has begun designating cruise ships with green, red, or yellow codes based on their COVID-19 risk exposure. The risk exposure disclosures could mitigate cruise ship liability and create shared liability with passengers. Personal injury attorneys can advise your hospitality business on prudent COVID-19 risk disclosure practices.

Class Action Law Suits

Hospitality businesses are also sitting ducks for COVID-19 class action lawsuits. The high incidence of coronavirus and its super spreader ability during the pandemic made tracking the disease to one place near impossible. However, in the early days of the pandemic, several ground zeros were identified. They included a business conference at a Grand Hyatt hotel in Singapore and a Nike event at a Hilton Carlton hotel in Edinburgh, which infected at least 25 people.

Similar personal injury class action lawsuits involving infectious diseases include Hepatitis C, salmonella, and legionella disease. Because of the high reputational risk involved, your personal injury attorney will move to settle the claim as quickly as possible. A 2018 class action lawsuit against Hardee's fast-food restaurant in Charlotte, North Carolina was settled within months after many people became ill with Hepatitis C over 10 days in June 2018. 

Duty of Care 

Hospitality businesses can ensure they are not the next ground zero and limit their personal injury liability risk by putting in place the hygiene and safe distancing precautions advised by the WHO, CDC, and industry regulatory bodies. If you fail to show a duty of care, your liability risk could increase.

Meanwhile, states are starting to pass laws limiting the COVID-19 liability of hospitals and other medical service providers by requiring proof of gross negligence. Gross negligence requires a higher burden of proof than general negligence or malpractice. Similar laws could be introduced for other businesses. 

A personal injury lawyer can advise you on how COVID-19 liability would be applied in your state and how to reduce your coronavirus personal injury liability risk.