Licensed in Missouri and Kansas

What Legal Immunity Really Means

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, legislatures across the country are considering bills to give legal immunity to businesses and people against claims of infection. As a trial lawyer practicing personal injury in the Kansas City area, I’ve dealt with various legal immunities plenty of times. I’m surprised how often people misunderstand exactly what legal immunity means. I’d therefore like to spell out the effect immunity has on personal injury claims.

Legal immunity is a complete bar to any kind of compensation, no matter the cause. Immunity means an entity cannot be sued for negligence. If you did sue an immune business or person, your case would be dismissed almost immediately and you would likely be sanctioned and forced to pay fees and costs to the business or person you sued.

Immunity protects businesses and people from lawsuits no matter what they did. Even if they committed egregious negligence or broke every rule in the book, and as a result of that you got hurt, you cannot sue them for money compensation.

For example, with coronavirus immunity:

  • Even if a business or person knowingly made sick employees work, without masks or personal protective equipment, and within 6 feet of customers for more than 15 minutes
  • You cannot sue that business if you get sick there

Legal immunity does not just protect innocent businesses and people; it protects the negligent ones too. The Seventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: the right to a trial by jury, helps keep our communities safe by holding wrongdoers accountable for their negligence. Legal immunities prevent that from happening.

We already have laws prohibiting frivolous lawsuits. If you don’t have a case, a judge will dismiss it before trial. If you file a lawsuit against a business or person without a valid claim, not only will your case get kicked out, but you could also be fined for filing a frivolous lawsuit. Immunities do nothing to help with this.

Please consider your own safety before voicing your support for coronavirus immunities. Our communities will be less safe if businesses and people can’t be held accountable for breaking the rules preventing the spread of the virus.