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.