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Can a Business be Sued if an Employee or Customer Contracts COVID-19?

On April 27, Georgia businesses that have been closed for several weeks because of the coronavirus were allowed to reopen, but with conditions. Businesses are required to implement various measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. These include:

  • Screening and evaluating symptomatic workers and requiring them to stay home if they are ill;
  • Keeping the workplace disinfected and sanitized and providing workers with disinfectant;
  • Providing employees with protective equipment (such as masks and gloves) as available;
  • Enforcing social distancing among workers and patrons;
  • Implementing telework where possible and holding meetings virtually;
  • Implementing staggered work shifts where possible;
  • Providing alternate points of sale outside the workplace when possible (such as curbside pickup or delivery).

There are also requirements that are specific to certain industries. For example, food establishments must limit the number of patrons to 50% of fire capacity (or eight patrons per 1000 square feet), encourage non-cash payments when possible, and sanitize the doors to enter and exit the establishment at least three times per day.

As Georgia and other states start to reopen, numerous legal concerns are emerging. From the standpoint of employees and customers, one of the most commonly asked questions is whether or not they are able to sue a business if they end up with COVID-19 from being in their establishment. There are new cases of the coronavirus each day, and without a vaccine, this is a major risk that people are taking as they enter a business.

Can a Customer Sue a Business for Contracting COVID-19?

This is an open question, because we are in uncharted legal territory here. Every situation is different, and there is no simple answer that applies to all circumstances. There have already been numerous lawsuits against the major cruise ship companies for their handling of COVID-19, and those who contracted the coronavirus on one of the ships and the families of those who have died from it deserve to be compensated. Unfortunately, this litigation is an uphill battle because of certain factors that are specific to the cruise ship industry.

One of the major challenges with suing any business for contracting COVID-19 will be proving that the virus was passed to you while you were patronizing their establishment. This is a little easier to show when you were on a cruise ship for several days than if you spent an hour or two in a grocery store or restaurant, for example. A court will also look at what measures the business took to keep their patrons safe. If they did not follow the guidelines discussed earlier that were laid out by the state, then a customer might possibly have a case, but the rest of the circumstances would still need to be looked at by an experienced personal injury lawyer.

Can an Employee Sue an Employer for Contracting COVID-19?

This again is an emerging area of law that has yet to be settled. There have been some lawsuits filed against employers, but it is too early to tell how they will turn out. For example, a Dallas, Texas meat plant was sued by the family of a 36-year-old worker who died after getting the coronavirus at work. Walmart was also sued by the family of a worker who died after contracting COVID-19 on the job.

There will certainly be a lot of workers’ compensation claims from employees who contract the virus on the job. Workers’ comp does not require employees to prove negligence, and since a typical employee spends the majority of their hours in a week at work, they may have a better chance of prevailing with this type of claim.

If an employee is eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, they are generally barred from being able to sue their employer unless they can prove that their employer acted with malice or deliberate intent. That said, there could be other parties outside someone’s employer who may have given them the virus, such as a subcontractor working in the building who failed to follow social distancing guidelines. In the case of third-party liability, the infected employee may be able to bring a lawsuit against the responsible party.

Speak with an Experienced Atlanta Personal Injury Lawyer

The question of whether or not a business can be sued if an employee or customer ends up with COVID-19 has no simple answer. Every case is unique, and if you find yourself in this situation, the best thing to do is talk with a skilled and knowledgeable personal injury attorney about your case.

At Ross Moore Law, we want you to know that we are here to help with any potential personal injury claims you may have, especially during this difficult time. We are doing most of our tasks remotely these days, but our firm was built with the technology and resources to remain fully operational even during a pandemic like the one our country is currently facing. For a free consultation and case assessment, message us online or call our office today at (404) 905-3146. We look forward to serving you!

How will COVID-19 Impact Personal Injury Claims in GA?

The coronavirus pandemic is the worst public health emergency most Americans have ever experienced. Thus far, hundreds of thousands have tested positive for COVID-19, and tens of thousands have died from it. In response to the outbreak, Georgia and most other states have issued “stay-at-home” orders to help slow the spread of the virus and prevent hospitals from getting overwhelmed.

The impact of COVID-19 has been felt in every area of our society, and it will continue to reverberate long after this pandemic subsides. Although not everyone will contract the virus, no one is immune from the effects of it – including the legal system.

At the moment, there is limited access to the Georgia courts, and if hearings are held, they are usually done via teleconference or videoconference. At Ross Moore Law, we want you to know that, in spite of the challenges presented by the coronavirus outbreak, we are still open and ready to serve you. The health and well-being of our clients remains our number one priority, and as such, we are taking all the precautions and following all the social distancing guidelines.

From the beginning, our firm was built with a mind toward providing strong personalized representation while leveraging the most up-to-date technologies to ensure smooth and efficient operations and an outstanding client experience. This has paid strong dividends as we have been able to rapidly transition into a fully operational virtual office during this unprecedented time for our state and country.

How the Coronavirus might Affect your Personal Injury Case

Access to Medical Care

When someone gets injured as a result of another party’s negligence, it is very important for them to get prompt medical treatment. This is not only true from the standpoint of your physical (and oftentimes emotional) recovery, but also for your legal claim. An injured party has a legal duty to mitigate their losses by receiving the care they need to recover or reach maximum medical improvement.

The coronavirus outbreak has caused difficulty for patients who are being treated for a personal injury. Some have had their appointments canceled or rescheduled, and many elective procedures have been put on hold in order to preserve capacity for expected COVID-19 patients. There is very little that can be done about a mandatory delay for certain types of medical care, but patients still need to be diligent, keep their appointments, and do what they can to follow all of their doctor’s recommendations.

This brings up another issue that many personal injury victims are experiencing. With the understandable concern about running into COVID-19 positive patients at the hospital or clinic, some victims are apprehensive about going in to see the doctor. It is important to understand, however, that these facilities are going to great lengths to keep everyone healthy, including putting on masks, keeping patients distanced from each other, and sanitizing surfaces. Although you can never completely eliminate the risk of contracting the coronavirus, the risk is minimal, and it would be far worse to miss out on the treatment you need to get recovered from your injury.

Court Access

As mentioned earlier, Georgia courts are limited to emergency proceedings for the time being. This means that personal injury trials that were scheduled for the Spring have been postponed. But although the wheels of justice are turning more slowly these days, much of the work that goes into a personal injury case continues unabated. For example, we are still able to review police reports and gather other critical facts and pieces of evidence for a claim, and many depositions are still being held through videoconferencing as long as the opposing counsel is cooperative. When everything reopens, there is likely to be a backlog of cases for a while, but we are confident that things will return to normal before too long.

Increased Pressure to Settle your Claim

With the delays in the court schedule and tighter finances for many households where a breadwinner may have lost their job because of COVID-19, many personal injury victims are feeling increased pressure to settle their claims. Insurance companies are also aware of this situation, and many of them are trying to drag things out so claimants are more motivated to settle for a very low amount.

Unfortunately, the offers claimants are likely to receive right now will probably only represent a fraction of what they are entitled to. This is why it is more important than ever to have strong legal counsel by your side fighting hard to recover the full and fair compensation you need and deserve.

Ross Moore Law is Here for You

If you or a loved one suffered injury because of the negligent or reckless actions of another party, do not put off obtaining legal help because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ross Moore Law is here for you, and we are ready to go to work immediately on your claim. For a free consultation and case assessment, message us online or call our office today at (404) 905-3146. We look forward to serving you!

Avoiding a Pedestrian Accident During the Coronavirus Shutdown

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage America and most of the rest of the world, Georgia has issued a “shelter in place” order to help prevent the spread of the virus. Thousands of non-essential businesses have been shut down temporarily, with countless workers being abruptly laid off or furloughed. Many of those who are still working are doing so from home rather than going into their office.

With most of us stuck at home, there are far fewer cars on the road. But at the same time, many people are going for walks in order to get fresh air and exercise. Walking is a great way to get out of the house and enjoy the warm weather while we wait for the effects of the coronavirus outbreak to subside. That said, the increased pedestrian traffic does heighten the risk of a vehicle (or vehicles) crashing into someone who is out walking.

In fact, just recently, multiple vehicles struck and killed a pedestrian who was attempting to cross Interstate 20 near the Moreland Avenue exit in Atlanta. At least four vehicles hit the man who was crossing, resulting in his death and possible injuries to motorists. The cause of the accident remains under investigation, but this tragic incident highlights the need for pedestrians and motorists to be mindful of the dangers out there and take the necessary steps to stay safe.

Tips for Avoiding Pedestrian Accidents during COVID-19 or Anytime

For Pedestrians

  • Stay Visible: Do everything you can to make sure that drivers are able to see you. If you are out walking during the day, wear brightly colored clothing. If walking at night after dark, wear lightly colored or reflective clothing. As much as possible, try to walk in areas where there is plenty of lighting, and also try to make eye contact with vehicle drivers before you cross in front of them.
  • Obey Traffic Laws: Understand and obey all of the traffic laws and rules in whatever area you are walking. For example, cross only at designated crosswalks and other places where it is legal, and do not try to cross when there is a red light and/or oncoming traffic.
  • Be Alert: Most of us have smartphones, and it can be difficult to put them away even for a short while. But as a pedestrian, it is your responsibility to pay attention to potential hazards and avoid them. In order to best accomplish this, limit your smartphone use, especially when you are crossing the road in places where there is typically high vehicle traffic.
  • Stay Sober: Alcohol plays a role in approximately 50% of all pedestrian accident cases. And although it is usually an impaired driver that causes the accident, about one-third of all alcohol-related pedestrian crashes involve a pedestrian who is intoxicated. Whether you are driving or walking, alcohol impairs your judgment. Stay safe by staying sober.

For Motorists

  • Avoid Distractions: As we discussed earlier, it is very tempting to look at your smartphone while walking or driving. However, doing this can have deadly consequences. The best practice is to put your phone away while you drive. But if you must get in touch with someone, do so only by making a phone call with the phone in “hands-free” mode.
  • Follow Traffic Laws: Many pedestrian crashes happen because of aggressive or reckless driving behaviors. Examples include excessive speeding, running stop signs and red lights, and failing to yield the right-of-way. As with pedestrians, motorists must be familiar with and obey all traffic laws in order to keep everyone safe.
  • Stay Sober: In spite of several decades of high-profile public awareness campaigns, far too many motorists make the horrible and often fateful decision to drive after having too much to drink. Do not be one of them – it may be a decision you regret for the rest of your life.
  • Be Mindful of Pedestrian Traffic: With more people out walking during the coronavirus pandemic, motorists need to watch out for pedestrian traffic not only in areas like downtown Atlanta where it tends to be heavy, but also in their own neighborhoods.

Injured in a Pedestrian Accident in Atlanta? Ross Moore Law is Here to Help

If you or someone close to suffered injury in a pedestrian crash, you may have a right to significant compensation. But do not put off speaking with an attorney simply because of the COVID-19 situation. At Ross Moore Law, we want you to know that we are still open and ready to serve your legal needs. In spite of the unprecedented challenges our nation is facing, we have the technology and resources to remain fully operational while following all of the social distancing guidelines to ensure their everyone stays safe.

To speak with a member of our legal team, message us online or call us today at (404) 905-3146. We look forward to serving you!

How to Help Your Community During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The coronavirus outbreak has affected everybody in one way or another. Hundreds of thousands throughout the country have contracted the virus, and tens of thousands have died from it. The “stay-at-home” order that Georgia and most other states have issued has also forced non-essential businesses to close, causing many to lose their jobs and moving those who are still working into their homes.

The COVID-19 crisis is one of those rare experiences that is shared by all Americans. There is no one who is immune from its effects, and this is one of those situations where we can truly say “we are all in this together”. The good news is that, while we are facing unprecedented challenges due to the effects of the coronavirus, citizens in Atlanta and communities throughout the country are pulling together to help everyone get through this situation.

Ways to Help the Community during the Coronavirus Outbreak

In Atlanta, charities and many individuals are stepping up to make sure those in need are taken care of while the COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing. Here are some of the ways you can help:

  • Support the Greater Atlanta COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund: The United Way of Greater Atlanta and Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta have partnered to form a response and recovery fund that is dedicated to streamlining relief efforts for those hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. These include seniors, kids who rely on school lunches or their daily meals, families who normally receive childcare, and workers who have lost their jobs.
  • Support Local Food Shelves: Local Atlanta area food shelves are stressed, but they are doing what they can to respond to the overwhelming need during this difficult time. They are not only in need of resources, but they are also short of volunteers. Many food shelf volunteers are seniors and others that are at higher risk of serious illness because of COVID-19, so they have had to step away and stay-at-home for a while. Fortunately, many others in the community who are healthy and suddenly find themselves with some extra time on their hands are stepping up to replace those who cannot help the way they normally would.
  • Support Local Homeless Shelters: Many of the homeless shelters in the area are cutting off access to volunteers as a precaution to keep everyone safe. So, at this time, the shelters are in critical need of resources. This may include financial donations and donations of various essential items such as food, masks and hand sanitizer.
  • Support Food and Beverage Industry Workers: The food and beverage industry is among those that are hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, and countless workers are now unemployed. The Giving Kitchen is a nonprofit that helps these workers with financial support and access to critical community resources. Another way to support the industry is by ordering take-out or delivery from restaurants that are still open, or by purchasing gift cards for later use from restaurants that are closed at the moment.
  • Support the Elderly and Other Shut-Ins: There are many in our community who are unable to leave their homes because of the major health risks associated with the virus. And this means they may not be able to get to the grocery store for food and other essentials. Organizations like Open Hand are delivering thousands of meals per day to the elderly in the community. They have a great need for volunteers to deliver food, and of course, financial donations are also appreciated. Aside from these, even just a phone call to check up on an elderly neighbor and provide them some remote companionship can go a long way to help someone who is feeling alone and isolated because of this situation.
  • Support Frontline Workers: Those who drive trucks, work in hospitals, and work in grocery stores are among our essential workers – the heroes who are keeping our society going while most of us are staying safe at home. Many of these workers are putting in lots of overtime and feeling very stressed about the possibility of getting exposed to the virus, and we can show our support for them by sending them gift cards for food, coffee, or other items that they may need. Sometimes, even just a simple “thank you” when you come in contact with an essential worker is also greatly appreciated.

Together, We Will All Get Through This

During times of crisis, Americans have always pulled together to help everyone get through it, and the coronavirus pandemic is no different. We will overcome this like we always have, and we will emerge stronger and more united because of it. In the meantime, continue to follow social distancing guidelines and do whatever else you can to help.

At Ross Moore Law, we want you to know that we are here for you if you need us. Like most everyone else, we are working remotely these days in order to keep ourselves and our clients safe. That said, we are fully operational and well-equipped to help you with any type of personal injury need you may have. Feel free to contact us by messaging us online or calling (404) 905-3146. We look forward to serving you!