LITIGATION DEPARTMENT OF THE YEAR - Mid-Size Firm  ALM's Daily Report  

How Insurers Are Preparing for a Wave of COVID Liability Litigation

Risk & Insurance

In an article published by Risk & Insurance as the cover story of its March issue, Partners John Bonnie and Matt Gomes are quoted discussing the incoming wave of COVID liability claims and how insurers are preparing for litigation.

As businesses reopen and occupancy allowances increase, so does the risk for COVID-related allegations. Claims alleging business’ liability for patrons’ illness have already been filed, and insurers expect this type of claim to multiply as COVID restrictions relax and courts reopen.

While claims are expected to increase, insurers are proactively building defense strategies to minimize potential financial impact. “Negligence claims typically require proof of a duty, breach of that duty, causation and damages,” Gomes explains. “An individual who claims that he or she was exposed to COVID at the workplace or a business might have a difficult time proving causation — that is, that the company’s actions caused the plaintiff’s exposure to the coronavirus.”

Ultimately, each case will vary based on its individual circumstances. “A hospital and a bicycle shop, for example, will have different liability exposure,” Bonnie says. “Duty and causation might be easy to establish in the case of the hospital, but it may at the end of the day have legal immunity. The bicycle shop on the other hand may have duty and causation arguments that are an absolute defense to liability. The interests of the carrier and the insured in a strong defense are probably aligned in either case, whether the outcome of the defense effort is ultimately a finding of no liability, the development of arguments that reduce recoverable damages where there is liability, or a determination of actual liability and recoverable damages. The defense dollars were well spent either way.”

For the full article, click here.

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