By Codie Ross

Since its onset early last year, the coronavirus (COVID-19) has been a nonstop cause of concern to business owners—not only because of the hampering economic impact COVID-19 has had on their bottom lines, but also because of an immense fear of legal liability for potential exposure of the virus to patrons.  Regarding the latter, businesses in Indiana can now breathe easier and turn their focus to economic recovery.  On February 18, 2021, Indiana Governor, Eric Holcomb, signed into law the Civil Liability Immunity Bill, SEA 1—providing civil immunity for damages arising from COVID-19.

The legislation protects businesses and individuals from liability for injury or harm arising from COVID-19 unless the business or individual exhibited gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct that must be proven by “clear and convincing evidence”.  The new law specifically protects individuals, associations, institutions, corporations, companies, trusts, limited liability companies, partnerships, political subdivisions, government entities, not-for profits, and “any other organization or entity”.  Further protected are any businesses that produce pandemic-related materials, such as personal protective equipment and COVID-19 tests.

Adding more ease to the minds of public and private institutions is the fact that the legislation is retroactive to March 1, 2020 and remains in effect through December 31, 2024.  The Act supplements and is in addition to the Indiana Tort Claims Act as well as the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act.  It does not apply to worker’s compensation, occupational health and safety, or unemployment compensation claims.  Of note, it also extends the same protection to long-term-care facilities and nursing homes.

The passing of the Act was a top priority for the Governor, and was strongly encouraged by a variety of Indiana business organizations, including the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.  Should you have additional questions regarding this new legislation and its impact on Hoosier citizens, institutions, and businesses, please contact any of our Indiana attorneys within our multiple practice groups affected by the new law, including General Liability/Surplus Risks and Retail, Hospitality and Entertainment Facilities.

This has been prepared for informational purposes only. It does not contain legal advice or legal opinion and should not be relied upon for individual situations. Nothing herein creates an attorney-client relationship between the Reader and Reminger. The information in this document is subject to change and the Reader should not rely on the statements in this document without first consulting legal counsel.

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