By: Wade Bo Perry, Jr.
Alabama Act #2021-4, approved and effective February 12, 2021, provides qualified civil immunity from certain damages sought by individuals related to Coronavirus exposures during the current Pandemic. The immunity extends to business, educational, and governmental entities, as well as to health care providers and churches, and to the directors, officers, agents, and employees of each.
The immunity does not apply if the claimant proves by clear and convincing evidence that the immunized party acted with wanton, reckless, willful, or intentional misconduct. In the absence of such circumstances, moreover, a health care provider is protected from all damages where the health care provider’s response was negatively impacted by a lack of resources attributable to the Coronavirus Pandemic or to the response of the State to the Pandemic.
In the absence of death, an injury requiring inpatient hospitalization of less than 48 hours, permanent impairment of a bodily function, or permanent damage to a body structure, the claimant is limited to actual economic compensatory damages. In case of death, the sole remedy is punitive damages.
The provisions of the Act apply retroactively to March 13, 2020, and terminate on December 31, 2021, or one year after the Coronavirus emergency expires, whichever is later. However, civil liability arising out of covered acts or omissions occurring during the operation of the Act are subject to the provisions of the Act in perpetuity. Claims arising under the Act must be filed within 2 years of the date of the occurrence.