Right before the July 4 holiday, Gov. Roy Cooper (D) signed into law legislation that will limit North Carolina businesses’ liability for claims related to COVID-19.
The legislation adds an Article 8 to Chapter 99E of the General Statutes. Virtually any business or governmental entity will be immune from ordinary negligence claims based on any “act or omission alleged to have resulted in the contraction of COVID-19.” Entities (called “Persons” in the legislation) will be liable only if the act or omission was grossly negligent, willful or wanton, or intentional.
Entities are required to provide on their premises “reasonable notice of actions taken . . . for the purposes of reducing the risk of transmission of COVID-19 to individuals present on the premises.” The entity will not be liable for any individual’s failure to comply with the entity’s rules.
The law expressly states that it does not apply to workers’ compensation claims, which presumably means that employees in North Carolina may assert such claims if they contract COVID-19 in the workplace.
The law will be in effect for claims arising 180 days or less after the expiration of Gov. Cooper’s Executive Order declaring a state of emergency in North Carolina, which was issued on March 10.
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