Virginia lawmakers working to pass bills making it tougher to sue over COVID-19 issues

Posted at 2:13 PM, Aug 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-27 22:47:31-04

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - Many organizations are concerned about lawsuits related to the coronavirus pandemic as society continues to navigate how to reopen safely.

But some lawmakers are working to pass bills to make it tougher to sue.

Jason Miyares from the House of Delegates 82nd District said he has heard from churches, small businesses and schools who are worried about lawsuits related to COVID-19. He and other lawmakers have created bills that, if passed, would make it tougher for people to file civil lawsuits against these types of organizations.

“I want this bill so people feel like there is a path forward to reopen society, that they're not going to be sued into oblivion,” Miyares said.

He said as long as the agency or business has complied with federal, state and local policies, and procedures they shouldn’t be in fear of frivolous lawsuits.

“If you're grossly negligent, that's different. But if you follow the rules, you should have some type of safe harbor from the storm of litigation that's surely to come,” Miyares said.

He also said everyone is impacted when insurance companies are forced to settle cases.

“Every time an insurance carrier makes a settlement in any of these lawsuits, that cost is passed on to all the other consumers, so all the other insurance rates go up,” Miyares said.

He believes one of the biggest roadblocks to re-opening society is the threat of litigation and thinks the laws need to be changed.

“This is something a lot of other states are doing, and I think it's important for Virginia as we try to find a smart balanced approach to reopen,” Miyares said.

There are several similar bills in the House and the Senate.

They are being reviewed and revised, but the ultimate decision could be up to Governor Ralph Northam.