Arizona Passes COVID-19 Liability Protection for Businesses
Update Applicable to:
All businesses fitting any of the following descriptions:
- A person who furnishes consumer or business goods or services or entertainment;
- Educational institutions and school districts;
- Property owners;
- Nonprofit organizations;
- Religious institutions;
- State and local government agencies;
- Developmental disability service providers;
- Health care professionals; and
- Health care institutions.
Arizona Governor Ducey signed Senate Bill 1377 on April 5, 2021, creating COVID-19 liability protection for employers in the state.
What are the details?
A “provider” is presumed to have acted in good faith if the provider relied on or reasonably attempted to comply with published guidance, such as that provided by the Arizona Department of Health Services or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A civil action may not be brought against persons or providers identified below unless the claimant can demonstrate the person or provider acted (or failed to act) with willful misconduct or gross negligence. Furthermore, the claimant must establish the claim with “clear and convincing evidence.” This is a higher bar than the “preponderance of the evidence”—i.e., “more likely than not”—standard generally applied in civil cases. A “provider” is any of the employers or individuals who fit any of the descriptions described in the “Update applicable to” section.
Healthcare professionals and institutions acting in good faith cannot be held liable for injury or death sustained while providing an array of services related to the pandemic, such as screening, assessment, diagnosis, or treatment related to the virus. Additionally, they are protected from similar claims resulting from services that are not specifically COVID-related, such as delayed or canceled non-urgent or elective surgery, or an act or omission relating to nursing care or by a healthcare provider due to a lack of staffing, facilities, equipment, supplies, or other resources.
The protections established by the statute do not apply to workers’ compensation claims.
An article summarizing the bill can be found here.
The bill can be found here.
What do employers need to do?
Arizona employers should continue to make good-faith efforts to conform with safety guidelines provided by local officials and state regulators, to ensure protection under this legislation.