TAMPA, Fla. — A business attorney is informing business owners on how they can protect their companies from liability when reopening their doors in the wake of coronavirus pandemic.

What You Need To Know

  • Jeffrey Lieser thinks it's worth the risk to reopen vs. staying closed, losing customers, but ...

  • Business owners should read every piece of guidance provided and stringently implement

  • Also be mindful of social media if you're not following CDC guidelines

  • More coronavirus stories

Tampa attorney Jeffrey Lieser said business owners may not be thinking about the liability they face by reopening during a pandemic, and they should.

“My advice is read every piece of guidance out there that is applicable and implement it and be hawkish about making sure it is followed," Lieser explained. "Otherwise, you’re opening yourself up to liability.” 

With that said, Lieser thinks it’s worth the risk to reopen vs. staying closed and risk losing customers.

He said it would be tough for a customer to prove they got the coronavirus from one specific business. But fighting the lawsuit would be time-consuming. 

“Any lawsuit right now against a business owner for the allegation that someone was made sick by virtue of the business owner’s failure to comply with the guidelines could be disastrous because it could go on for years. You’d have to potentially hire lawyers that could cost a lot of money,” said Lieser, estimating the cost to fight the lawsuit could be in the tens of thousands of dollars. 

Regardless of the business owner’s personal beliefs, Lieser said it’s wise for them to also be concerned with the optics, especially if choosing not to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. 

“You don’t want to scare clients away by disregarding what are becoming societal norms, at least for the time being, as it relates to social distancing for example," he explained. "If a customer shows up and you’ve got 10 people in your lobby and everyone is standing three feet apart, a lot of people are going to be uncomfortable and they’re going to take their business elsewhere."

Lieser also said business owners should be concerned about social media if they’re not following the CDC or state guidelines. Pictures or videos could surface demonstrating this and be used in court against them if a lawsuit were filed. 

He added plaintiffs could also gain access to the company’s surveillance video in their quest to prove negligence. 

Lieser also recommended businesses review their general liability insurance policy to see if it covers COVID-19.

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