Montgomery County, PA Attorney for Deaths Caused by COVID-19 Workplace Negligence
COVID-19, or the Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019, has adversely affected the nation, but it has also resulted in numerous legal issues and questions. Many businesses have closed, others have their employees working remotely, while some companies and industries are required to remain open. This raises potential issues or claims arising from exposure to the coronavirus, either in the workplace or through contact with other employees or contact with other members of the public.
If you lost a loved one who contracted the coronavirus in their place of employment, contact our Montgomery County attorney for deaths caused by COVID-19 workplace negligence. Our attorneys have over three decades of experience vigorously fighting for the rights of families who lost someone through the negligence of others. Call the Reif Law Firm at (215) 246-9000 to schedule a free consultation.
OSHA and COVID-19 Deaths from Workplace Negligence in Montgomery County
To address concerns and issues facing Montgomery County employers and employees during the current coronavirus pandemic, the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued guidelines for employers on how to limit exposure of the employees to COVID-19.
Because the pandemic is a recent development, OSHA has not been able to issue official standards that address COVID-19. While guidelines have been promulgated, they are not enforceable in the same manner as other OSHA standards. However, the “General Duty Clause” remains in effect and enforceable. Under OSHA’s “General Duty Clause,” employers are required to provide their employees with a workplace that is free of recognizable hazards that are likely to cause death or serious physical harm.
Given the nature of the pandemic, the guidelines set forth by OSHA promote the “General Duty Clause” though provisions to protect the employees. These include:
- Develop and prepare a COVID-19 response plan.
- Implement preventative measures including, but not limited to, routine cleaning and disinfecting, providing access to wash stations and sanitary stations, and protective devices if necessary.
- Develop a comprehensive plan to identify infected employees and isolate them from the general workforce.
- Install workplace barriers and controls to protect against the spread and infection of COVID-19, for example, reconfiguring the workspace to ensure social distancing.
Rights of Montgomery County Employees During Coronavirus
Employees in Montgomery County have a right to voice their concerns and worries about the safety of their work environment. Employers are prohibited, by the Occupational Safety and Health Act, from retaliating against employees who raise health and safety concerns. The Act applies during the current pandemic. If you feel your concerns regarding the implementation protocols to safeguard your health and wellbeing are not being addressed or concerned, contact our attorney at the Reiff Law Firm.
Liability of Employers for COVID-19 Deaths in Montgomery County, PA
Often, injuries or death that occurs at a place of work must be addressed through a workers’ compensation claim. That coverage does not usually include employees getting a disease such as the cold or the flu. However, exemptions exist. Because state and local governments have issued “stay at home” orders and other facts surrounding COVID-19, the trend might be leaning towards an exception to the exclusionary rule. As of this writing, there have been no definitive rulings, but the situation is changing daily. Also, any arguments made for the exclusion of COVID-19 opens employers up to potential liability.
On April 6, 2020, the first lawsuit for the death of an employee was filed in an Illinois court. The language in the complaint states that the defendant engaged in “willful and wanton” behavior, purposefully disregarding the health and safety recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The complaint also alleges that the defendant employer was aware, or should have been aware, of the high risk their employees faced.
The law is unsettled at this point but we believe that an employer owes their employees a heightened duty of protection. While there is still a great deal to learn about COVID-19, it is a known and a deadly hazard. Employers have recommended guidelines issued by both OSHA and the CDC. Conduct that might open an employer to liability for an employee’s death could include:
- Inadequately training employees or failing to provide information regarding the prevention of infection.
- Neglecting to address employees who were sick or showed signs of sickness.
- Failing to provide adequate space to work while practicing safe social distancing. If the type of employment requires contact within six feet, then an employer should still provide reasonable protections from infection, such as a plastic screen for a cashier.
- Not providing personal protection equipment, especially if the employee was in contact with the general public.
- Not properly sanitizing or cleaning the workplace’s public and restricted areas.
- Failing to take other reasonable steps recommended by the CDC, OSHA, or other federal or state agency.
Call our Montgomery County Attorney for Deaths Caused by COVID-19 Workplace Negligence for a Free Consultation
When your loved ones go to work, you expect them to return home healthy and ready to go to work the next day. With COVID-19 raging through parts of the country, the act of earning a living has become riskier. Our Montgomery County attorneys for deaths caused by COVID-19 workplace negligence have 35 years of representing individuals injured and killed at work. While the current pandemic is presenting new and complicated legal challenges, many of the same principles of negligence still apply. You need a knowledgeable wrongful death attorney who is prepared to take up this new fight and vigorously represent your rights. Call the Reif Law Firm at (215) 246-9000 to schedule a free consultation and review the details of your case.