August 13, 2020

Nevada Businesses Protected from Civil Liability for COVID-19: What Companies Need to Know

Using a carrot-and-stick approach, Nevada’s new law limits civil liability for personal injury or death resulting from COVID-19 for most businesses in exchange for compliance with controlling COVID-19 health standards. However, failing to comply with such standards may result in personal injury liability, fines, and business license suspensions.

Overview of SB4

On August 11, 2020, Governor Sisolak signed into law Senate Bill 4. The statute largely protects businesses, government entities, and non-profit organizations from liability relating to COVID-19 exposures, illness, and death. To benefit from this law, businesses must substantially comply with controlling COVID-19 health standards created by local, state, and federal laws, regulations, ordinances, and orders. The protections will not apply if a business was grossly negligent in violating these health standards and failing to substantially comply with them may result in business license suspensions. 

In addition, the law imposes greater requirements on public accommodation facilities.  Such facilities must provide employees with paid leave to test for COVID-19 after exposure, establish protocols to protect employees, and adhere to strict, detailed cleaning procedures. Public accommodation facilities that violate certain provisions may be subject to fines. 

What Employers and Businesses Need to Know

In order to benefit from the civil liability protections of SB4 and avoid suspension of their business licenses, Nevada businesses must monitor the evolving COVID-19 safety rules and regulations at all levels of government. Businesses should consider seeking legal advice on current requirements and how to develop policies and procedures to demonstrate substantial compliance with controlling health standards.

Businesses should also be aware that while the provisions relating to public accommodation facilities explicitly apply to hotels and casinos, the definition is broad and may encompass a business that offers space for a fee. If a business falls within the definition, the ramifications could impact the business. Most significantly, public accommodation facilities should plan and prepare for the possibility of unexpected paid time off among its employees and will be required to develop procedures to protect employees. To determine whether a business is a public accommodation facility, the business should contact a legal representative regarding the application and implication of these provisions.