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COVID-19 Medical Malpractice Claims Likely to be Barred


Three states – Michigan, New Jersey, and New York – have already passed legislation or an executive order providing immunity for doctors from COVID-19 medical malpractice claims. These statutes are meant to protect health care workers from liability as they try to treat the influx of patients showing up due to the virus. These states are among those hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Law Will Disproportionately Impact Those in Inner Cities 

It’s no secret that dense, large cities with a lot of travel are the ones that are going to have larger clusters of cases than suburban and rural communities. It’s also no secret that the virus has particularly harmed African-American and Latino populations in those cities.

This makes sense for two reasons. Firstly, poorer African-Americans and Latinos tend to live in cities while poorer whites tend to live in rural communities. In other words, those most likely to have a lawsuit against a health care provider related to COVID-19 are blacks and Latinos.

Meanwhile, rural and suburban hospitals may also see an influx of patients, but these will be runoff from city hospitals that no longer have space to take on new patients.

So we will need to answer the question: Does this new legislation unfairly target those who live in inner cities and are disproportionately minority or poorer populations?

No Federal Guidelines Yet 

The federal government is also considering protections for health care workers concerning COVID-19. Indeed, hospitals have been preparing for a wave of lawsuits even before the numbers began to spike. While patients may be barred by statute from filing lawsuits in certain states, there have yet to be any federal protections for health care workers. These are likely to be forthcoming.

It also remains to be seen whether or not the immunity will extend beyond COVID-19 cases or whether the immunity will apply to any instance of medical malpractice that occurs during the crisis.

What Will the Legislation Look Like? 

Generally speaking, it will be more difficult to file a medical malpractice lawsuit if the case is related to the COVID-19 pandemic. It may also be that this immunity spreads to hospitals that saw an overabundance of patients during the pandemic.

Lawsuits that allege “gross negligence” can still go forward, but it’s very difficult to prove “gross negligence” in a medical setting.

Medical malpractice attorneys, who work on contingency, will need to be more selective about the types of cases they take arising from this period. You can expect medical malpractice attorneys to reject cases that are superficially barred by statute.

On the other hand, there is likely to be a watershed case arising from the pandemic in which a hospital or doctor was obviously negligent and the result led to catastrophic injury or death.

Talk to a Tampa Medical Malpractice Attorney Today 

If you’ve been injured by medical negligence, call the Tampa medical malpractice attorneys at Palmer | Lopez today to schedule a free consultation.


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