Personal injury lawyers spend heavily to solicit COVID-19 claims
Television advertisement spending in the latter half of 2020 highlights just how aggressively personal injury lawyers are soliciting COVID-19 liability claims and plaintiffs.
In a report compiled by the American Tort Reform Association, 176,053 television advertisements that sought to solicit claims by mentioning COVID-19 or coronavirus aired from March through December 2020, at an estimated cost of $34.4 million.
Several law firms increased their advertising after receiving federal Paycheck Protection Program loans. These federal dollars were intended to help struggling businesses cover operating expenses but were used by law firms to increase their advertising spending and recruit potential plaintiffs for future litigation.
During this period, Florida accounted for nearly 20% of all legal services’ advertisements mentioning COVID-19 or coronavirus that aired, with a total of 34,321 ads adding up to over $6.6 million.
“The data shows just how important it is for state legislatures to seek legislative solutions to support health care providers, businesses, and their employees who have been on the frontlines, responding to the pandemic,” the report states.
To read more about the tactics personal injury lawyers are using to engage in soliciting liability lawsuits that harm patients and providers, click here.
Pandemic protections advance in Missouri
Health care providers in Missouri are closer to receiving pandemic protections after the Missouri State Senate advanced legislation late last month.
Senate Bill 51 would offer a range of protections for health care providers, businesses and employers except in the case of recklessness or willful misconduct.
This bill calls for liability protections for health care providers practicing during the pandemic who may have been affected by personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages or the need to delay or adjust elective care. Such circumstances would otherwise give rise to ”COVID-19 medical liability actions,” which are broadly defined to include any personal injury allegation against a health care provider by a plaintiff who believes the injury was caused by negligence in the course of providing COVID-19-related health care services.
“Many of these businesses and organizations did their best to follow the health guidelines throughout the pandemic, something that was not easy to do because the guidance always seemed to change,” an editorial by, Missouri’s NewsPress highlighted.
Hearings by Missouri State House committees are underway, with further action expected on the bill this month. To read more about the pandemic protections being considered, click here.
Repeal of New York’s liability protections threatens patient care
Despite the ongoing pandemic and observations that COVID-19 cases have stopped declining in New York, legislators have taken the precarious step of repealing liability protections that would keep meritless lawsuits in the state at bay.
Assembly Bill A3397 repeals the emergency protection legislation that was passed to shield health care heroes and the facilities in which they work from liability resulting from circumstances outside of their control throughout the pandemic.
A3397 was passed by both the Assembly and the Senate and now heads to Governor Andrew Cuomo for signature.
The Health Coalition on Liability and Access and 18 organizations expressed their opposition to the bill and the consequences of repeal in a letter to Governor Cuomo.
“The New York health care community has faced a tremendous burden during the pandemic,” the letter states. “In addition to dealing with the same concerns as all New Yorkers about the virus, they put themselves in harm’s way, risking their very lives, in order to try to save others and halt the spread of the virus.”
Now, these selfless actions may put those same providers at risk.
“To compound that toll, subjecting them to the threat of a flood of litigation because the dire circumstances in which they had to function may have forced them to choose between the usual standard of care and saving as many lives as possible, is unjustifiable.”
To read the letter to Governor Cuomo in full, click here.
Risk of meritless COVID-19 lawsuits driving Arizona protections
In the absence of federal protections for frontline workers, health care providers and businesses, Arizona legislators have stepped up to join a number of states who are proactively addressing the threat of pandemic-related liability lawsuits.
Senate Bill 1377 would offer liability protections for those who, during the pandemic, have acted in “good faith” to implement reasonable policies to protect customers, clients and patients.
This includes health care facilities and providers affected by the public health emergency and unable to offer elective procedures, needed to defer less urgent care, or faced PPE shortages felt by so many across the country early on.
The bill establishes exceptions for providers or businesses operating in a negligent or reckless manner.
“SB 1377 is not blanket immunity. It protects responsible actors working diligently under extraordinary circumstances while preserving reasonable recourse for truly bad actors,” said Courtney Coolidge, vice president for government affairs at the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
A coalition of nearly 100 businesses, trade associations, schools, nonprofits, health providers and other organizations in Arizona support SB 1377, which has been approved by the Arizona House Judiciary Committee.