Some customers of reopened businesses likely will contract COVID-19 given the widespread contagiousness of the virus.
Enterprising plaintiff attorneys are most certainly preparing to file big-dollar negligence claims against businesses whose customers contract COVID-19.
Businesses can use liability waivers to have a defense against such lawsuits. Liability waivers generally are valid in Pennsylvania if they:
- do not contravene public policy;
- relate to the private affairs of the parties; and
- the signer is under no economic or other compulsion to participate, that is, a customer can choose not to enter a place of business if he or she does not want to risk exposure to COVID-19.
In order to be enforceable, waivers need to describe the liabilities being waived as specifically as possible and are strictly construed against the business requiring customers to sign them.
Our firm has assisted clients in the preparation of COVID-19 waivers. In particular, businesses involving significant personal interaction should strongly consider having their customers sign such waivers. Such businesses include, among others, retailers, bars and restaurants, hair and nail salons, sports and concert venues, physician offices and dental practices, funeral homes, gyms, karate studios, yoga studios, tattoo parlors, camps (including sports and summer camps), beer distributors, and services businesses such as law and accounting firms. Please feel free to contact John W. Lewis, II at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-918-1122 or Matthew R. D’Ascenzo at email@example.com or 412-918-1188 if you have any questions regarding the potential preparation of a COVID-19 waiver for your business.