Could medical negligence claims rise as the economy reopens?

Date: May 16, 2020

Australia's governments have begun to ease restrictions on social gatherings and business operations to return to a new normal post-COVID-19. Though certain rules are still in place to continue flattening the curve, many are already looking ahead at how reopening businesses and permitting more travel will affect society.

While relaxing restrictions is a positive sign for many citizens, The Sydney Morning Herald highlighted the concern some have about employees returning to work and the possibility that employers could be liable if individuals at their business contract COVID-19.

Australia easing restrictions

The Department of Health recently released a 3-step framework for a COVIDSafe Australia. Along with an emphasis on continuing proper hygiene and social distancing measures, the government outlined their plan to slowly but surely open businesses and create what they're coining a "COVIDSafe economy."

This is great news for businesses eager to reopen while still following the rules for cleaning their spaces and only permitting a maximum number of people or employees in the building at a time.

Are employers liable for workers who contract COVID-19?

While the government's plan addresses the steps to follow for businesses to reopen, it does not cover what could happen to employers if their employees contract COVID-19 at work. The Sydney Morning Herald explored the possibility that employers who are found negligent in providing a safe working environment could face legal action if an employee becomes ill.

While employers may not be subject to a medical negligence case, they could still be held liable for their actions, the news source explained. For instance, if an employer fails to provide PPE and hand sanitizer or refuses to ensure social distancing measures are taken in the workplace, they may be found negligent and made to pay damages if an employee contracts COVID-19 at work.

Ultimately, employers cannot be sued for medical negligence, but they can be held liable if an employee becomes sick due to their negligence or refusal to follow government guidelines to slow the spread of COVID-19 and their lack of health safety could contribute to more medical negligence cases if employees become hospitalised.

If you believe you or a loved one has been affected by a potential case of medical negligence, Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers are here to help. Contact us today to learn more about your rights to making a claim.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.