Many of our construction clients (and insurance carriers) have asked whether they might face liability if an employee contracts the coronavirus (COVID-19) at a time when he or she is working at a jobsite in the Tri-State area. As the pandemic continues to grow in intensity, we fully expect plaintiffs to try to make out a Labor Law 200 or 241(6) violation against owners and general contractors should a worker contract coronavirus and develop significant complications resulting in a prolonged period of unemployment.
According to various sources, more than 80% of coronavirus cases are mild and should result in full recovery and return to work within a short period of time after contracting the virus. However, owners and general contractors could face liability if a laborer contracts the virus from a jobsite at which the contractor knew or should have known that an employee at the site was showing symptoms of exposure to the virus. Of course, a significant risk of liability exposure would only apply if the worker was in the minority of those effected and exhibited severe symptoms.
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