09 Mar Indiana Law Provides Immunity From Civil Claims Related to Covid-19
by William Haut
As of February 18, 2021, Indiana has a law on the books granting immunity from civil claims related to Covid-19. The new law provides immunity from civil liability for Covid-19 related damage claims for typical business operations (Indiana Code 34-30-32 “Immunity Related to Covid-19”), and for persons who design, manufacture, label, sell, distribute or donate Covid-19 protective products (Indiana Code 34-30-33 “Covid-19 Related Products Liability”). Both laws are retroactive and apply to a cause of action that accrues on or after March 1, 2020, and class action lawsuits are prohibited. Both statutes expire December 31, 2024.
What does the new law protect against?
The law grants a “person” (defined to include individuals, corporations, limited liability companies and essentially most types of entities) immunity from civil tort liability for damages “arising from Covid-19” under the following three instances:
- On the “premises” (defined as real property and any appurtenant building or structure) owned or operated by the person (which will include most sites of employment)
- On any premises on which the person or an employee or agent of the person provided property or services to another (for example, a caterer providing services at a reception)
- During any activity managed, organized, or sponsored by the person
The law defines “arising from Covid-19” as an injury or harm caused by or resulting from: (1) actual, alleged or possible exposure to or contraction of Covid-19, or (2) services, treatment or other actions performed for Covid-19.
In essence, the new law provides businesses with a desired level of protection from civil claims related to their typical business operations and the production and distribution of Covid-19 protective equipment.
What doesn’t the new law protect against?
The law does not provide complete immunity. All persons remain liable for acts or omissions constituting gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct (including fraud and intentionally tortious acts).
Additionally, the law does not apply to Indiana’s Workers’ Compensation, Workers’ Occupational Diseases Compensation, Occupational Health and Safety, and Unemployment Compensation laws.
The bottom line is that businesses gained important civil liability protection, but must continue to operate in a safe and responsible manner, including adhering to all employment laws and health and safety requirements applicable to their respective business operations, as well as all federal, state and local guidance intended to mitigate the spread of and exposure to Covid-19.
The information contained in this publication should not be construed as legal advice or opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general informational purposes only, and you are encouraged to consult your own legal counsel on any legal questions you may have concerning your particular situation.