Indiana Senate Bill-1 was introduced on January 4, 2021, and the second reading of the Bill to the Committee on Judiciary occurred on Monday, February 1, 2021. The bill would add a new section to the Indiana Code to provide civil tort immunity to any person, employee, or agent of a person who sponsored, organized, managed, provided property or services, or owned and operated premises on which damages arise due to COVID-19. If made into law, this new statute will apply to businesses, limited liability corporations and partnerships, the government, trusts, and many more institutions in addition to just individuals.
What will be the impact of this bill if it is passed into law?
Businesses, institutions, and individuals will not be held liable for any damages that arise on their property that cause an injury or harm due to actual, alleged, or possible exposure to COVID-19. Additionally, the institutions will not be liable for any services, treatment, or other actions performed in response to COVID-19. This includes closures due to preventing the spread of the virus which could result in layoffs or furloughs. It also includes medical expenses or other tort claims related to contracting the virus at the place of employment, business, institution, or even a friend or relative’s home.
While this may not be ideal for the individual who will not have a cause of action against potentially negligent institutions, people, or businesses, the bill does provide institutions, people, and businesses protection against potentially frivolous and baseless claims by disgruntled customers, employees, and neighbors. The bill will help ensure that businesses do not go under during the pandemic due to lawsuits based on COVID-19 exposure.
However, if a business, institution, or individual committed gross negligence, willful or wanton misconduct, fraud, or intentionally tortious acts, civil tort immunity will not apply, and the actor may be held liable for any damages that ensue. Additionally, civil tort immunity will not apply to class actions.
If you would like to read the full bill in its current version, please click here.
If you have any questions about the impact COVID-19 may have on businesses, please call the lawyers at McNeelyLaw LLP at (317) 825-5110 for help.
This McNeelyLaw LLP publication should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion of any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general informational purposes only, and you are urged to consult your own lawyer on any specific legal questions you may have concerning your situation.