By D’Anne Buquet
As the Coastal Bend hunkers down to combat COVID-19, this community is experiencing quite a few positive effects. More than ever, people are making a conscious effort to support local businesses that remain open. Businesses are adapting to meet their customers’ needs with new innovative practices such as contact-free, ultra-sanitized shopping experiences. Our local grocery stores and all their hardworking employees are working tirelessly to stock shelves and clean surfaces. And healthcare providers are at the frontline, caring for thousands of community members who could potentially be carrying one of the most infectious and dangerous viruses of our time.
Just scrolling through social media, you’ll see a surge of uplifting messages with #supportlocal posted by citizens showing their appreciation and support for those working every day to make sure the rest of us get through this crisis.
But once we begin to come out of this, should we expect a tidal wave of lawsuits? Lawsuits targeting those local businesses who did all that they could to provide their customers with services and products when they needed them most? Lawsuits targeting doctors, nurses and hospitals who risked their lives to care for infected patients and all other medical needs?
Unprecedented, the COVID-19 pandemic gives trial lawyers the opportunity to create new and novel theories to target businesses, healthcare providers, and individuals. Whether accusing a doctor of a late diagnosis or charging a local restaurant with negligence, there are numerous scenarios for a greedy lawyer to take advantage of a public health crisis.
The next McDonald’s “hot coffee” lawsuit may be coming. We must be on watch and encourage each other to remember how the community came together during the crisis. We must remember how businesses are going the extra mile to provide a safe and healthy environment in a never-before-seen, unpredictable environment. Doctors and nurses are working longer hours with fewer supplies but continue to deliver the best care they could in the situation.
As lawyers will challenge laws, we must work equally as hard to preserve the tort reforms we’ve made to protect our local businesses, healthcare providers, and individuals. These reforms have helped the Coastal Bend thrive with new local businesses and the jobs they create as well as access to affordable healthcare.
This pandemic is hurting us enough. Let’s not continue with more hurt by filing abusive lawsuits against the very community members who got us through it.
D’Anne Buquet is the Executive Director of Bay Area Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse, a grassroots watchdog organization made up of citizens dedicated to raising awareness of the costs and effects of lawsuit abuse. www.bacala.net