Florida Governor Signs COVID Liability Limitation Bill into Law

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On March 29, 2021, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed SB 72 into law, providing civil liability for business entities for COVID-19 related claims for damages, injury, or death in certain circumstances, and only after the plaintiff presents an affidavit signed by a physician attesting to a reasonable degree of medical certainty that the damage, injury, or death was caused by the business entity’s acts or omissions.

According to the law, F.S. 768.38, if a court determines that the business entity made a good faith effort to substantially comply with authoritative or controlling government-issued health standards or guidance at the time the action accrued, then the business entity is immune from civil liability. The law also requires plaintiffs to bring suit for a COVID-19 liability claim within a year, shortening the four (4) year statute of limitations for general negligence.

Additionally, Section 2 of the Act protects healthcare providers against COVID-19 related claims (as defined by the Act) where the healthcare provider proves by the greater weight of the evidence that the provider substantially complied with government-issued health standards or other relevant standards under the circumstances.

Business entities and healthcare providers should continue to ensure that they are complying with and documenting compliance with applicable government-issued standards of care to bolster immunity under the new law.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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