JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (WAVE) - Indiana business owners struggling to keep their doors open during COVID-19, now have less to worry about when it comes to getting sued.
On Monday, the Indiana Senate voted by a margin of more than 5 to 1 to give businesses some immunity against lawsuits by customers who claim they were exposed to COVID-19.
Now waiting on Governor Eric Holcomb’s desk for a signature, the new law gives protection to businesses as long as they follow the rules regarding masks, distancing and sanitizing.
The law was supported by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and One Southern Indiana.
“They are still required to do things safely,” said Wendy Dant Chesser, president of One Southern Indiana. “And we are always going to encourage them to do you things as safely as possible based on what the CDC is recommending. So as businesses are able to open, and hopefully the state of Indiana continues to open businesses through the Governor’s plan, we expect that more businesses will be able to get back to what the new normal will look like.”
Businesses could only be sued for COVID-19 exposure in cases of gross negligence.
“To know that as long as we not engaged in gross negligence or some kind of willful action exposing people, we don’t have to worry about that risk,” Laurie Kemp, owner of Momentum Title Agency said. “It lets us focus on the job at hand.”
Once signed by Holcomb, the law will limit lawsuits against manufacturers of personal protective equipment (PPE).
Opponents of the legislation were critical of protection being also extended to nursing homes.