Business Liability Considerations from COVID
As the restrictive phases of the Coronavirus Pandemic progress, businesses are left to wonder how to handle the ramifications of reopening in the safest manner possible. It is a business owner’s responsibility to take preventative and continuous measures to ensure the safest conditions can be guaranteed at all times for customers and employees.
However, this duty is more difficult than it has ever been with the onslaught of the coronavirus. Attempting to avoid the transmission of the coronavirus is a tedious and laborious endeavor that requires much added time and effort to maintain added cleanliness and sanitation. Information regarding the virus’ possible manner of transmission often changes as new developments are discovered. As these developments alter our understanding of the virus, so do the needs of the procedures that must be in place to protect the general public.
Therein lies the question of liability for business owners. To what degree are business owners liable if a customer or employee claims to have contracted COVID-19 at a place of business? There are several scenarios in which this may come about. They may file a claim against the business. Generally, such claims are covered by insurance. If the amount of the claim is less than the deductible on the insurance polcy, the business would be responsible if the claim is valid. Thus, it is imperative to thoroughly read through your current insurance policy from start to finish. While reading, specifically look for how your policy would respond to such claims.
It will also help to determine if you have an umbrella policy, which would be beneficial if the lawsuit was filed against the individual business owner rather than the business. This might occur if the claimant finds you to be personally liable for not enforcing safety protocols in the running of your business. These types of claims are all worrisome, but fortunately there are steps you can take to reduce your liability and the chances of having a claim filed against you.
First and foremost, review your insurance policies with an insurance profession. Determine where you stand if you were to be sued at this point. If you are up for renewal, be cautious that a new policy may have newly added clauses tailored explicitly for these pandemic scenarios to avoid payouts. Be sure to ask your insurance provider about coverage for such matters.
Also very important, be transparent. Have your safety policies and the protocols you are enforcing clearly posted, preferably at the entrance of your business. Include information such as how you regulate social distancing, sanitation measures being taken and any other relevant information. This allows any potential clients the ability to decide before entering if the safety measures you are offering are satisfactory to them.
Create a logbook or system to register the continuous cleaning protocols enforced and record all updates made to procedures or policies. Regularly update employees regarding COVID safety protocols and have each one sign a document that guarantees their willingness to carry through the procedures. Ensure employees understand the importance of following procedures at all times.
Be prepared for employees or customers that are not willing to follow procedures. File reports with as much detail as possible, including the verbal interaction and actions that unfolded. Should the incident result in a consequence to themselves, yourself or others, the report can protect you by showing your attempt to remove an individual who was not compliant or prevent the consequence that resulted from the incident.
Navigating through this new and unprecedented manner of doing business is intimidating. Continuously educating oneself with the most current information and taking the right precautions will ensure the least liability for any situation that may present itself in your place of business.
Rebuilding After the Economic Downturn
As Illinois slowly emerges from strict safety regulations due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, many have been negatively affected financially. Businesses have been forced to partially or entirely shut down, furloughing and laying off employees. With the recent increase in unemployment rates, many struggle with the worry of paying bills, feeding their families and keeping their homes.
For those fortunate enough to not have been affected as much, many things can be done to help others that are in need. Pan American Bank & Trust prides itself on being a true community support, volunteering and supporting community organizations that benefit local residents. NeighborWorks is a favorite yearly community project for the PAB&T staff, volunteering to improve a distressed neighborhood by planting, weeding, and painting, to name a few. The team also supports other various local food pantries and community organizations.
There are numerous ways to help those in need, both big and small. Some prefer to contribute their time, while others prefer to donate funds. There are so many different types of needs at this point that any contribution is appreciated. Most times, a place of worship, school or non-profit organization will be a great place to find community service options. They may be specific groups that focus their efforts on seniors citizens, animals, people with disabilities, the environment, children or those struggling because of the pandemic.
Before choosing, you may want to decide the type of impact you wish your contribution to have. If you are donating your time, what kind of environment would you enjoy most? Do you enjoy the company of children or are you happiest in the presence of animals? Choose accordingly, so your experience will be rewarding and beneficial for all involved.
Do you plan on having your community service be a one-time event, or would you rather choose several smaller acts for various groups?
Would you like to assist an existing effort, or would you like to initiate and organize a new effort such as a blood drive, charity race or auction? The possibilities are endless and simply depend on the amount of time and availability you are willing to spare.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
Volunteer free babysitting services for working parents.
Donate free lessons in a skill you are competent.
Offer a paid internship if you own a business.
Collect and donate used clothing for those in need.
Set up a meal train for those that are sick or in need.
Organize a car wash and donate the proceeds to a family out of work.
Check out your local Red Cross to see what volunteer opportunities are needed.
Offer to deliver groceries and meals to the elderly.
Drive senior citizens to doctor appointments.
Offer to do yard work, wash windows or shovel snow for someone sick, unemployed or elderly or pay for the services to be done.
Help out or donate at your local food pantry.
- Help out or donate at Habitat for Humanity.