Governor Pritzker Grants Civil Immunity to Health Workers Treating COVID Patients
On April 1, 2020, Illinois Governor Pritzker issued Executive Order 2020-19 granting broad immunities from civil liability to those working in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The Executive Order applies to “health care facilities, health care professionals, and health care volunteers” who are assisting the state in its response to the coronavirus outbreak. Governor Pritzker issued the order to protect health care workers and facilities from civil liability for injuries or deaths during Corona Virus Pandemic. The Executive Order does not provide for absolute immunity. Workers and facilities can still be face civil liability if “such injury or death was caused by gross negligence or willful misconduct.”
Healthcare workers and facilities have been working at an “all hands-on deck” level for since the outbreak in order to address the needs of those infected with this novel Coronavirus. As a consequence, the Executive Order seeks to address the possibility of a hospital facing liability resulting from understaffing and a strain on medical resources. The Executive Order also provides retired healthcare workers incentive to come back and help out the already strained healthcare system.
The Executive Order also seeks to protect those who are establishing nontraditional medical facilities in order to address the growing need for patient space. The Executive Order extends to those working under contract with the state to give assistance to public emergency-management officials. The Order invokes the Good Samaritan and Emergency Medical Service Systems Acts which provides immunity from civil liability to health care and emergency personnel who provide good faith services to assist the system during this crisis.
However, victims of malpractice, negligence or other wrongdoing in connection with care they receive relating to COVID-19 may still wish to explore their legal rights. Under the executive Order, a victim will have to show that a healthcare worker engaged in willful or wanton conduct or was reckless in order to obtain a recovery, but this is often a question for a jury to decide. This standard is generally what governs claims against governmental bodies and public entities in cases involving personal injury. The Executive Order will limit many claims, but questions as to the nature of the conduct causing the harm are often ambiguous. If you or a loved one has suffered harm in connection with COVID-19, you may want to consult with an experienced attorney who can provide guidance. Please feel free to contact the Law Office of Jeffrey Friedman, P.C. at 312-357-1431 with any questions you may have.