Law & Order

Business Liability Protection From COVID-19 Lawsuits Considered by More States in 2021

By SEMA Washington, D.C., Staff

Efforts to enact SEMA-supported provisions to provide businesses with liability protection from COVID-19 related lawsuits were successful in 2020 in at least 16 states. Many more states are considering these protections as state legislatures begin to convene their 2021 legislative sessions and consider what additional measures should be put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

States that have already passed liability protection for businesses include Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming. These states either enacted legislation or their Governors took executive action in 2020. In Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Wolf vetoed legislation that would have shielded businesses exposure from most COVID related lawsuits.

Looking forward, state legislators and business leaders in Florida, Indiana, Maine, Missouri and other states have expressed their support for passing liability protection in 2021. Most of the provisions that have been enacted to date require companies to have followed certain health protocols for maintaining a safe operation and do not shield a business from a gross negligence claim.

At the federal level, a SEMA-supported measure has not yet been enacted despite attempts to include the provision within the $900 billion coronavirus stimulus plan enacted on December 23, 2020. Lawmakers will continue to pursue a federal approach to the issue as additional legislation is considered to address the pandemic.

For more information, contact Caroline Fletcher at