The team at Odesnik Law remains fully available to you during these uncertain times.
Our firm has been a member of the South Florida community for more than 10 years. We live and work here and are invested in the community. We have been monitoring the effects of the novel Coronavirus COVID-19 and its effects on South Florida. Our goal is to keep you up to date about what is going on in Miami and the surrounding areas and what your legal rights may be.
The purpose of this page is to provide our community with a central hub with useful information during the COVID-19 crisis. Check-in daily for updates on new statistics, current news, developments, and more!
Increased Injuries during Pandemic
COVID-19 has changed the way we live, at least for now. Most of us are now sheltered at home because of stay-at-home orders like the one issued by the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County, but some of you who are in essential services are still out in the community. This has changed the type of personal injuries and risks we face. For example, people are dealing with new challenges in grocery stores, condominiums, and exercising outdoors. There are novel issues with exposure to COVID-19 and tripping and falling in public areas. People working in our outdoors community also face risks like exposure to COVID-19 when delivering packages and groceries.
These new risks can lead to COVID-19 personal injuries and an increased risk of other personal injuries.
Nursing Home Injuries
Nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Miami and elsewhere have been some of the hardest-hit locations for Coronavirus infections and COVID-19 deaths. Nursing homes are full of at-risk people due to their age and pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes, heart conditions, or lung diseases, which make people more likely to get sick and less likely to fight off the infection.
The people in nursing homes and assisted living facilities are also more dependent on caretakers, who come into the facilities from the outside world and may be infected with the novel Coronavirus. That makes it especially important for nursing homes and assisted living facilities to take proactive measures to train their employees and protect their residents.
Cares Act and Payment Protection Program
The CARES Act and Paycheck Protection Program are meant to help people and small businesses weather the storm of the Novel Coronavirus. Among other things, the CARES Act includes supplemental unemployment benefits for people in Miami, including an extra $600 in federal benefits per week for weeks of unemployment ending on or before July 31, 2020.
The Paycheck Protection Program provides a lifeline for small businesses in Miami by allowing them to borrow up to 2.5 times their average eligible monthly payroll costs, capped at $10 million, and interest rates on the loans will not exceed 4%. Depending on how much a business borrows and how it uses the funding, all or some of the loans may be forgiven. Eligible entities for the loan include “any business concern, nonprofit organization, veteran’s organization, religious organization, or Tribal business.”
The federal government and local banks in South Florida are still trying to find ways to implement the benefits and programs under the CARES Act and Paycheck Protection Program. The federal government is also discussing additional phases of relief for people and businesses.
Cruise Lines and COVID-19
The cruise industry is especially impacted by COVID-19 because of its nature. The virus lies dormant, often for days, but people can transmit the virus during this dormancy. With hundreds or thousands of people in close quarters on a ship, the virus can spread rapidly, contaminating many before anyone shows symptoms. For example, on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, 712 people were infected, yet 46.5% showed no symptoms at all when they were tested. Because of these unique circumstances, cruise lines and governments have faced difficult moral and legal decisions, including quarantine procedures.
Although cruise lines have suspended sailings for the time being—the CDC has recently extended a “no-sail” order—there were still some ships at sea over the past several weeks which were not allowed to dock in various ports and countries after the worldwide pandemic spread. Here in South Florida, for example, special dispensation and arrangements had to be made to allow two Holland America Line ships and one Princess ship to dock and discharge guests and crew. You can find a copy of the recent CDC order here.
The April 9 order states cruise ships cannot return to their sailing schedules until either the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declares that COVID-19 no longer constitutes a public health emergency, the CDC director decides to modify or rescind its no-sail decision, or 100 days passes from the time the new order is published in the Federal Register. So, for now, dozens of cruise ships must remain in port or at anchor, only moving to discharge waste at sea and to keep the ships functioning. Those ships typically have thousands of crew aboard, but for the foreseeable future are operating with skeleton crews, large enough only to meet minimum manning standards.
There have already been lawsuits filed by guests claiming they were kept uninformed and exposed to danger by the virus. It is too early to say whether any of these lawsuits will be successful, but we expect to see more claims brought.