Philadelphia Attorney for Deaths Caused by COVID 19 Workplace Negligence
The Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019, or COVID-19, has swept across the nation, drastically changing how people interact and conduct business. To protect citizens, many companies have temporarily ceased operations, while others have instituted systems allowing their employees to work remotely. However, all businesses that were unable to do either as well as essential businesses have had to remain open. Employees face more significant risks of contracting the infection from other employees or through contact with the general public, giving rise to potential work-related injury or death claims.
If you lost a loved one who contracted COVID-19 in their place of employment, contact our Philadelphia attorney for deaths caused by COVID-19 workplace negligence. Our lawyers have over three decades of experience representing people who have lost a family member due to another’s negligence. Call the Reiff Law Firm at (215) 246-9000 to schedule a free consultation.
OSHA Response to COVID-19 and Philadelphia Employers
COVID-19 is presenting unforeseen challenges to employers in Philadelphia. The rapid spread of the coronavirus throughout the nation is dramatically changing some legal thoughts on employer liability. In an effort to protect workers and mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued guidelines detailing how employers could limit their employees’ exposure to the coronavirus.
Due to the terribly quick spread and effect of COVID-19, OSHA has rushed out their guidelines. Because of the timetable, the recent recommendations do not carry the full and enforceable effect of previous safety standards. However, the “General Duty Clause” provides some guidance and potential avenues to enforce legal liability upon employers. The “General Duty Clause” is a provision that protects workers from hazards for which the OSHA has not developed specific standards. It requires business owners to provide their employees with a workplace free of identifiable hazards that can cause death or severe bodily injury.
The guidelines that align with OSHA’s “General Duty Clause” recommend that Philadelphia companies:
- Prepare a comprehensive coronavirus response plan.
- Put remedial and mitigation practices into place, including but not limited to, washing and sanitizing the workplace, providing access to wash stations and protective equipment and supplying information regarding procedures limiting exposure to their employees.
- Develop a system to ensure that employees are healthy and a process to deal with employees that show symptoms. This includes giving employees detailed information on recognizing symptoms.
Rights of Philadelphia Employees
Philadelphia employees have a right to voice their concerns about the health and safety practices of their employers. The Occupational Safety and Health Act prohibits employers from firing or otherwise retaliating against employees for exercising this right.
Philadelphia Employers and Liability During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Typical injuries or deaths that occur at the workplace are addressed through workers’ compensation claims. However, workers’ comp does not usually cover diseases of the body, such as the flu or other viruses. Due to the nature of COVID-19 and the current state and local government “stay at home” orders in place, there is thought in the legal community that this might trend away from exclusion. COVID-19 presents a fluid situation and, at the time of this writing, there have been no defining decisions or rulings.
Holding a Philadelphia employer accountable for the death of an employee due to COVID-19 requires navigating several legal and factual hurdles. The first wrongful death lawsuit was filed in an Illinois court on April 6, 2020. To establish negligence, the complaint uses specific language stating that the employer’s conduct was “willful and wanton” in endangering the life of their employee. The plaintiff is attempting to prove that the employer purposefully disregarded OSHA guidelines and the safety and health recommendations promulgated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Most importantly, the complaint states that the company knew, or should have known, the hazards facing their employees and did nothing to mitigate those dangers.
Our experienced Philadelphia attorneys would use similar arguments based on current legal trends and our knowledge to prepare a wrongful death complaint. While many legal questions continue to swirl around, we continually gain more evidence of the dangers and risks associated with the coronavirus. Some employer conduct that could be used to establish negligence and willful disregard of employee safety include:
- Not adequately training or providing employees proper information regarding infection and prevention.
- Allowing sick employees to continue working and not having procedures in place to address employees exhibiting symptoms of the virus.
- Maintaining a work environment that did not allow for social distancing.
- Not providing their employees with personal protection equipment or providing adequate wash stations or sanitization supplies.
- Not cleaning or sanitizing public and restricted areas of the workspace.
- Failing to follow other recommendations by the CDC and OSHA.
Call our Philadelphia Attorney for Deaths Caused by COVID 19 Workplace Negligence for a Free Consultation
Most people do not worry about their family members returning home from work safely. However, with the coronavirus sweeping through the country, everyday jobs have become dangerous. Our Philadelphia attorneys for deaths caused by COVID-19 workplace negligence have over three decades of representing families who have lost someone through their employer’s negligence. The pandemic is presenting new and complicated legal challenges. Our attorneys are dedicated to studying the current state of the law along with monitoring legal challenges to workplace safety due to the coronavirus. It is crucial to have our attorneys, with the depth of knowledge, representing your interests. Call the Reiff Law Firm at (215) 246-9000 to schedule a free consultation and review the details of your case.