As a New York personal injury lawyer (serving mostly the Syracuse and Central New York areas), I have pretty strong opinions about so-called “tort reform” (which we personal injury lawyers call “tort deform”): I’m against it. Generally, tort reform is just a power-play by big business, the chamber of commerce and insurance companies to get a free pass to act negligently and injure people without having to pay the price. The “price” of their negligence is shifted to the people who can least afford it: Their injured victims.
But I agree partially with the corporate/insurance lobby’s newest call to arms: They want immunity from coronavirus tort lawsuits for businesses that open up to the public. I agree that restaurants, gyms, and retail stores should get some kind of immunity. Total immunity, no, but rather “qualified” immunity. I’ll explain what I mean further down.
But first, why would a New York personal injury lawyer like me be in favor of a form of personal injury lawsuit protection for certain businesses? Because I want America to get back on its feet. This damn virus has slammed with particular vigor at our retailers and restaurants. Some will never reopen. Those that will are going to need some help. Our restaurants and retail stores are like a boxer who has been felled by a near knockout punch. We need to allow him to get back up on his feet before we can engage him in more fighting. Otherwise, we could kill him. (For a contrary view, read here).