Liability Waivers to Protect Against COVID-19 Claims

With many states and localities easing their shelter in place orders, flooring retailers and contractors will begin reopening their facilities and bringing back employees. It is important that each retailer and contractor take steps to protect employees and customers from exposure to the coronavirus to minimize the risk of liability if they contract COVID-19. CFI has published Reopening Safely—A Practical Guide that suggest steps to take to protect their employees, subcontractors and customers from the coronavirus.

Floor covering retailers and contractors should also consider having customers sign liability waivers to limit claims for damages if a customer contracts the coronavirus. It is important to understand that some states view liability waivers more favorably than others, and some states (Connecticut, Montana and Virginia) will not enforce liability waivers. Moreover, it is unclear whether a Covid-19 waiver would be enforceable. The courts have simply not ruled on waivers under the unprecedented circumstances presented by the pandemic. It is possible that COVID-19 waivers in some jurisdictions will be held to be against public policy. Nonetheless, waivers are recommended because they are easy to employ and if drafted properly, may well be enforced and avoid liability.

To assist members, WFCA and CFI have provided sample forms of liability waivers. A form for Residential Customers can be accessed HERE, and a form for Commercial Projects can be accessed HERE. The forms can be downloaded for member’s convenience. There is no certainty that these forms will protect flooring retailers and contractors from liability, and each flooring retailer and contractor should consult with their legal counsel to ensure the waivers comply with state requirements.

With the rapid pace at which laws, rules and orders are being issued, and now the lifting of shelter in place orders, CFI is working to keep members informed and updated regarding their opportunities and obligations during the COVID-19 crisis. The Association will also continue to provide other important information that may impact members.

Notice: The information contained in this update is abridged from legislation, court decisions, and administrative rulings, and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion, and is not a substitute for the advice of counsel.