Legal Lens: COVID liability protections could make things more difficult for grieving families

Legal Lens

The Brown & Crouppen Legal Lens takes a closer look at everyday legal issues and gives you a better understanding of topics that may affect you.

ST. LOUIS – Missouri Governor Mike Parson spent six months asking for a COVID liability bill. And in this latest legislative session, he got what he wanted. But what does this mean for everyday Missourians?

The state’s COVID liability bill protects businesses, nursing homes, and churches from lawsuits over possible exposure to the virus. Attorney Andrea McNairy says this is really going to affect families who felt they could prove negligence regarding COVID exposure with a loved one.

“Normally, if you are harmed by someone else’s negligence, you only have to prove that it was negligent,” she said. “Here you have to prove a business or a provider’s conduct was reckless, or willful misconduct; that is a very hard standard to prove.”

What about families coping with the loss of a loved one who died in a nursing home? Do they have any legal recourse?

“This is exactly the situation critics of this bill are concerned about,” McNairy said. “Someone who didn’t take necessary precautions they were supposed to be taking and somebody died. This can affect you because not only can it shield them from liability now, you would also have to prove it was reckless.”

McNairy says the bill is also giving protection to businesses for other reasons.  

“The worry with this bill is that it will affect Missouri families because it’s very expansive,” she said. “We have seen defendants try to use this as a shield for negligent actions not related to COVID.”

The bill is expected to be signed and enacted as law at the end of August.

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