One of the keys to getting the economy restarted is properly protecting businesses from lawsuits related to COVID-19 claims. As we move forward with reopening Ohio, there are many fears and risks with the liability exposure that businesses face as they move to reopen. These fears and risks could further cripple the economic recovery. While significant economic support has been provided to businesses, civil liability protection is now the next logical step of support that is needed.
With over 85% of Ohio businesses securing their insurance coverage through an independent insurance agent, OIA members will face unique challenges with the many retail establishments, restaurants, gyms, daycares, manufacturers, hotels, nonprofits and churches that we protect.
Fortunately, the Ohio House and Senate returned to Columbus this week to pass legislation to address liability protections for employers as they re-open. This legislation is now awaiting Gov. DeWine’s signature. He has indicated he supports this concept.
Under House Bill 606, all Ohio employers are granted qualified immunity from lawsuits alleging their action or inaction exposed someone to COVID-19. This immunity exists from the date of the governor’s state of emergency order – March 9, 2020 – and ends on Sept. 30, 2021, so Ohio businesses will have immunity from these types of lawsuits for up to an 18-month period. In addition to this general immunity coverage, Ohio’s health care providers will also have legal protections against litigation arising from care delivered in response to the coronavirus.
To help communicate this important initiative to your clients that will help keep Ohio moving forward, we have prepared a sample letter.
While the Ohio General Assembly initially left this legislation unsettled prior to summer recess, the election of a new speaker in the Ohio House in late July fueled movement on this important issue. OIA played an active role in helping to get this legislation across the finish line by testifying in both the House and Senate and also signing on to a letter that was sent on Aug. 4 to newly-elected Ohio House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) urging that quick action be taken on a coronavirus immunity measure.
OIA would like to thank the leaders in the Ohio House and Senate in addition to all the legislators who voted to support this critical measure. Ohio employers can now focus on rebuilding their business and workforce rather than worrying about expensive lawsuits.
For questions, contact Carolyn Mangas at firstname.lastname@example.org.