Tag Archive for: coronavirus

Coronavirus and Its Legal Impact on Businesses

Can Companies be Held Liable if their Employees End up with the Coronavirus?

In California and throughout the country, businesses are looking to reopen as the COVID-19 pandemic (hopefully) winds down. Each state has their own reopening plan, which is divided into various phases depending on the current conditions (in the state) with regards to the number of coronavirus cases and whether or not the number of cases is trending in the right direction.

California is moving along more cautiously than in many other states. In the Golden State, it is likely that things will not be back to normal for quite some time, and many of the specific conditions necessary for certain businesses to reopen have yet to be determined.

There is a strong and spirited debate about the speed at which we are reopening the country, and the need to protect customers and employees from contracting the virus is one of the major concerns. As smaller businesses like hair salons, tattoo parlors, and sit-down restaurants begin to reopen, there is understandable concern about what processes they are going to put in place to make sure everyone is safe.

Many states have already begun reopening, and they are mostly in the southeast part of the US. Among the first to reopen was Georgia, and they have implemented several safeguards to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

For example, social distancing of at least 6-feet, the use of masks and gloves, sanitizing and disinfecting surfaces, and similar measures have all become commonplace. The state is also requiring all restaurant workers to wear facemasks and asking other businesses to use protective equipment like facemasks if it is appropriate for the safety and functionality of the operation.

Some businesses in the “reopen” states do not feel comfortable opening back up yet, and others are doing so with extreme caution. Hairstylists, for example, are all wearing masks and gloves and they are usually requiring their patrons to do so as well. They are also limiting the number of customers that can be in the salon at one time and keeping styling stations at least 6 feet apart and/or leaving every other chair empty.

OSHA requires employers to keep their workplaces “free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm” to employees. To accomplish this in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, they are advising businesses to follow CDC guidelines such as social distancing, taking the temperatures of employees before they start work, disinfecting surfaces, wearing masks and gloves, etc. If a company fails to implement proper workplace safety standards, they could open themselves up to legal action.

Can Companies Be Sued if an Employee Ends Up with COVID-19?

The coronavirus outbreak is still a very fluid situation, so there is no cut and dry answer to this question. There will certainly be lawsuits against employers if an employee ends up with the coronavirus, and in fact, there have been several already. For example, a Dallas, Texas meat plant is being sued by the wife of a 36-year-old worker who died after contracting COVID-19 at work. And last month, Walmart was sued by the family of a worker who died from the coronavirus after getting it at work. It is too early to tell how these, and similar lawsuits will turn out.

The US Chamber of Commerce has expressed concern about the liability exposure of businesses as they start reopening, and they have asked Congress to intervene. However, there is sharp disagreement among the political parties about whether or not to provide liability protections that would be specific to the coronavirus. For this reason, the fate of any possible legislation that would address this issue is very much in doubt.

Whether the government takes action to limit the liability of businesses or not, many experts believe that filing a successful lawsuit against an employer after contracting COVID-19 would be an uphill battle for most employees.

First of all, they would need to prove that they got the virus at work and not outside of work, which may be a very high bar to clear unless there was an outbreak at their particular workplace. Secondly, if an employee qualifies for workers’ compensation benefits, they are generally barred from suing their employer except in very limited cases in which they can show deliberate intent on the part of the employer to create an unsafe work environment.

Contact Garmo & Garmo for any Legal Help Related to COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic is an unprecedented event that will forever impact our society in countless ways. The legal ramifications alone are numerous, and many questions like the liability exposure of businesses where an employee or customer contracts COVID-19 will take several months or longer to resolve.

At Garmo & Garmo, we will continue to monitor all of the latest legal developments and provide the skilled guidance and representation our clients have always received. We continue to take all the precautions and perform many of our tasks remotely as we follow social distancing guidelines, but our office remains fully operational and equipped with the technology and resources to serve your legal needs.

For a free consultation with one of our attorneys, message us online or call us today at (619) 441-2500.

civil cases during coronavirus

What is the status of my civil case during COVID-19?

As you know, the Coronavirus pandemic has turned normal life upside down, and our court system has not been immune to this. On March 17, 2020, the Presiding Judge of the San Diego Superior Court closed all courthouses and courtrooms to the public, except for “time-sensitive, essential functions.”  Since March 17, 2020, the court has released numerous updates regarding the Court and their operation. 

On April 30, 2020, the Court extended the court closure until May 22, 2020, with a reopening date of May 26, 2020.  Once the Court reopens, there will surely be additional guidance regarding the new safety measures that will be implemented to enter the courthouses. 

Through May 22, 2020, access to any and all San Diego Superior courthouses shall be authorized and restricted per San Diego Superior Court General Order No. 043020-47, as follows:

  1. Through May 22, 2020, access to any and all courthouses, courtrooms, business offices, and public areas shall be restricted at all times to judges, commissioners, court staff, persons seeking services authorized by the court, persons required to appear for scheduled hearings, and authorized personnel;
  2. Through May 22, 2020, access to any and all court proceedings, including, but not limited to, arraignments, preliminary hearings, and ex partes, shall be limited to parties, their attorneys, witnesses subpoenaed to testify or statutorily permitted to attend, and other authorized persons;
  3. The term “authorized persons” in paragraphs 1 and 2 above includes, but is not limited to, news reporters and news media representatives subject to prior approval pursuant to the procedures outlined in the California Rules of Court, the San Diego Superior Court Rules, San Diego Superior Court General Order of the Presiding Department, Order No. 010120-02, or any other application rule, order, or policy;
  4. This order does not restrict or otherwise abrogate the express and inherent authority of the Court and its judge to provide for the orderly conduct of proceedings, including the decision to permit or deny access to any courtroom or hallways adjacent to courtrooms;
  5. Social distancing of at least six (6) feet shall be enforced in all courthouses, courtrooms, business offices, and public areas to the extent possible.

However, despite the Court’s closure, some civil court services are still currently available.

Civil Services That Are Available in the San Diego Superior Court During COVID-19

  1. Initial ex parte requests for gun violence emergency protective orders, and civil harassment, elder abuse, gun violence, workplace violence, and school violence temporary restraining orders.
  2. Requests to renew restraining orders that are expiring
  3. Emergency (ex parte) lockout proceedings in landlord-tenant disputes (Unlawful Detainer).
  4. Petitions for writs seeking emergency relief in landlord-tenant matters (Unlawful Detainer).
  5. Emergency writs challenging COVID-19 quarantines/emergency measures. •Motions for new trial pursuant to Code Civ. Proc. §§ 656 et seq.
  6. Motions for judgment notwithstanding the verdict pursuant to Code Civ. Proc. § 629.
  7. Abatement warrants.
  8. Ex parte requests seeking emergency temporary restraining or protective orders of any type.
  9. Emergency ex parte hearings regarding claims of exemption.
  10. Ex parte petitions to approve compromised/disputed claims (for minors or disabled persons only).
  11. Ex parte hearings to stop utility shut-offs from occurring.
  12. Claim of right to possession in Unlawful Detainer proceedings.
  13. Acceptance of security and appeal bonds.
  14. Upon remittitur from the California Supreme Court or a California Court of Appeal, the issuance, filing, and processing of documents, including orders and judgments, to effectuate orders issued by the appellate court.
  15. The court may issue orders in cases in which the matter has been under submission and the court finds it necessary to issue and file the order in order to comply with the ninety (90) day deadline set forth by article VI, section 19 of the California Constitution.
  16. Processing final orders/judgments after hearing for matters heard prior to the closure of the court on March 17, 2020.

Source: http://www.sdcourt.ca.gov/pls/portal/docs/PAGE/SDCOURT/GENERALINFORMATION/FORMS/ADMINFORMS/ADM385.PDF

Additional Guidance from the Court

  1. If you have a court date (trial or other hearing) that is between March 17, 2020 and May 22, 2020, the hearing will be rescheduled and notice of the nearing hearing dates will be mailed out. The Court requests you do not physically go to the court to get more information.  If you have an attorney, reach out to your attorney.  If you do not, please refer to the Court’s website (www.sdcourt.ca.gov) for up-to-date information.
  2. The San Diego Superior Court has suspended the acceptance of paper and e-File documents in the Civil Business Office. The exception to this are paper filings related to the hearing types listed above. Filings that were submitted prior to the Court’s closure will be honored for the date they were received. Any items received after the closure will be honored for the date the Court reopens
  • All dates from March 17, 2020 to April 30, 2020, inclusive, have been deemed holidays for purposes of computing time for filing papers under Code of Civil Procedure §§ 12 and 12a.
  • All dates from March 17, 2020 to April 30, 2020, inclusive, have been deemed holidays for purposes of computing time under Code of Civil Procedure § 1167 (five (5) day period within which defendant must respond to a complain in an unlawful detainer action).
  • Any restraining order after hearing that is set to expire during the state of emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic is automatically extended for 90 days from the date of expiration to enable a protected party to seek renewal of the restraining order.

Source:  http://www.sdcourt.ca.gov/pls/portal/docs/PAGE/SDCOURT/GENERALINFORMATION/COVID-19INFO/SDSC%20GENERAL%20ORDER%20-%20THIRD%20IMPLEMENTATION%20ORDER%20043020-47.PDF

Please visit the San Diego Superior Court website for the most up to date information regarding the court. The link to the Coronavirus information page is:


Each civil case is different and has its own unique facts and circumstances. There are additional, special procedures that must be followed for civil services available during the Court’s closure. If you need assistance with civil services during the Court’s closure, speak to an experienced civil attorney about your rights during the Coronavirus pandemic.  The experienced civil attorneys at Garmo & Garmo, LLP are staying informed about the latest updates from the San Diego Superior Court and are familiar with the Court’s temporary procedures.  If you have questions about your specific case, please contact our office at (619) 441-2500 or send us a message.

mortgage relief for covid-19

Coronavirus and Options for Mortgage Relief

It’s no secret that the COVID-19 shutdown and shelter-in-place orders have resulted in job losses or reduced income for millions of homeowners nationwide. If you are among those financially impacted by the pandemic, you may be concerned about how you will be able to pay your mortgage during these unprecedented times. Federal and state governments, as well as financial institutions and loan servicers have announced plans to help struggling homeowners. The following summarizes some of the mortgage relief options that may be available to you.

CARES Act Relief Options for Federally Backed Mortgages

A new federal law, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, puts in place two protections for homeowners with federally backed mortgages:

  • Lenders and loan servicers may not foreclose on you for at least 60 days after March 18, 2020. Specifically, the CARES Act prohibits lenders and servicers from beginning a judicial or non-judicial foreclosure against you, or from finalizing a foreclosure judgment or sale, during this period.
  • If you have a financial hardship directly related to the coronavirus pandemic, you have a right to request a forbearance for up to 180 days. You also have the right to request an extension for up to another 180 days. You must contact your loan servicer to request this forbearance. There will be no additional fees, penalties or additional interest (beyond scheduled amounts) added to your account. You do not need to submit additional documentation to qualify other than your claim to have a pandemic-related financial hardship.

If you don’t have a federally backed mortgage, you still may have relief options through your mortgage lender or loan servicer.

Are there any Mortgage Relief Options Mandated by the State of California?

There is no mandate, but the State of California is working to soften the financial impact of COVID-19 on residents who are struggling to pay their mortgage. Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, US Bank, Wells Fargo, and nearly 200 state-chartered banks, credit unions, and servicers have committed to providing relief for consumers and homeowners in California. Under the Governor’s proposal, Californians who are struggling with the COVID-19 crisis may be eligible for the following relief upon contacting their financial institution:

  1. 90-Day Grace Period for Mortgage Payments – Financial institutions will offer, consistent with applicable guidelines, mortgage payment forbearances of up to 90 days to borrowers economically impacted by COVID-19. In addition, those institutions will:
  2. Provide borrowers a streamlined process to request a forbearance for COVID-19-related reasons, supported with available documentation;
  3. Confirm approval of and terms of forbearance program; and
  4. Provide borrowers the opportunity to request additional relief, as practicable, upon continued showing of hardship due to COVID-19.
  5. No Negative Credit Impacts Resulting from Relief – Financial institutions will not report late payments to credit reporting agencies, consistent with applicable guidelines, for borrowers taking advantage of COVID-19-related relief.
  • Moratorium on Initiating Foreclosure Sales or Evictions – For at least 60 days, financial institutions will not initiate foreclosure sales or evictions, consistent with applicable guidelines.
  • Relief from Fees – For at least 90 days, financial institutions will waive or refund mortgage-related late fees for customers who have requested assistance.

How Can Homeowners Request a Mortgage Relief Option?

Homeowners must contact and work directly with their mortgage lender or servicer to learn about, and apply for, available relief. Specific mortgage relief options will vary depending on the lender or servicer, but most are offering forbearance and loan modification programs. Other types of relief may apply to your circumstances. Please note that financial institutions and their servicers are experiencing high volumes of inquiries.

If you need help working with your lender or servicer, or advice understanding your mortgage relief options, you may want to reach out to a professional. Our team of business and real estate attorneys have many years of experience working with financial institutions, and we can help you get through these tough times. Reach out to us Garmo & Garmo today at (619) 441-2500, send us an email, or message us online for a free consultation.

personal injury cases during coronavirus in La Mesa

How Will the Coronavirus Affect Personal Injury Lawsuits in California?

The COVID-19 pandemic has turned all of our lives upside down. Tens of thousands of Americans have perished from the virus, and in response, there have been “shelter in place” orders implemented, countless businesses shut down, and millions out of work. Although some people may not end up getting the coronavirus, no are of society is immune from its effects, and this includes the California court system.

Most California courts are closed to in-person hearings, except for emergency proceedings. Many courts are continuing to hold hearings remotely via teleconference, videoconference, or live streaming, but still, the wheels of justice have slowed down considerably since the coronavirus outbreak started. It will probably be a while before the courts resume a normal schedule, and even when that happens, there is likely to be a significant backlog of cases.

In addition to the likelihood of court hearing delays, there are a number of ways that a personal injury case could be affected by COVID-19. Here are just a few of them:

Possible Delays in Noncritical Medical Care

As the COVID-19 outbreak began to sweep across the country, elective medical procedures and many other types of “noncritical” medical care was suspended so the healthcare system could focus on coronavirus patients. For many personal injury claimants, this has meant having to cancel or reschedule appointments and put various surgeries and other procedures on hold.

Under normal circumstances, delays in medical care would be problematic for someone who is recovering from a personal injury. You are supposed to follow all of the recommendations of the medical professional who is treating your injury, not only so you can recover or reach maximum medical improvement as soon as possible, but also to fulfill your legal duty to mitigate your losses from the injury.

As we all know, however, this is an unprecedented situation, and if you are forced to delay some of your treatments or procedures because of a government edict, that could almost certainly be considered “extenuating circumstances.” The good news is that as the country begins to reopen, elective medical care will be one of the first services to become available again.

Concerns about the Safety of Going to see a Doctor during the Pandemic

Maybe the medical care you needed was available, but you are apprehensive about going into a hospital or clinic with the possibility that COVID-19 patients might be there as well. This is an understandable concern, but it is important to keep in mind that these medical facilities are going to great lengths to keep everyone safe and healthy. For example, everyone is wearing masks and being kept at least a 6-foot distance away from each other, surfaces are continually sanitized and disinfected, and most facilities are keeping coronavirus patients separated from others who are coming in for care.

Although there is still a remote chance of catching the coronavirus from going to a medical facility (as there is when you go anywhere else for that matter), the risk is minimal, and it is far riskier (from the standpoint of your health and well-being) to miss important appointments and intentionally delay the care that you need.

Increased Pressure to Settle the Case

Delays in court proceedings mean waiting longer if you are taking your case to trial. And with finances much tighter for many households (especially those with breadwinners who are no longer working), personal injury claimants may feel a lot more pressure to get the case settled. Unfortunately, insurance companies are aware that many claimants are more motivated to settle, and they are seeking to take advantage of the situation by intentionally dragging their feet on claims and/or presenting lowball offers that do not come anywhere close to representing the true value of the case.

During these extraordinary times, it is more important than ever to seek representation from experienced personal injury attorneys who have the proven ability to negotiate a settlement that fully and fairly compensates their clients, or to successfully pursue litigation if necessary.

Contact Garmo & Garmo for Help with your Personal Injury Claim

If you or someone close to you suffered injury at the hands of another person or party, do not put your claim on hold because of the coronavirus situation. Delaying your claim and not getting the medical treatment you need in a timely manner will make it far more difficult to recover the compensation you deserve.

At Garmo & Garmo, our office remains fully operational and ready to serve your needs even in the midst of COVID-19. We are taking all of the precautions and following all social distancing guidelines, but we have the technology and resources to provide the same level of quality representation our clients have come to expect.

If you are in San Diego, El Cajon, or anywhere in Southern California, message us online or call our office today at (619) 441-2500 to schedule a free consultation and case assessment.

co-parenting during covid-19

Co-Parenting During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every aspect our lives, and most experts agree that social distancing will be the new “normal” for some time, even after shelter-in-place (SIP) orders are lifted. Within a family unit, parents can form a social distancing plan with rules for the family to follow in and outside their home. But for divorced or separated parents, social distancing and staying healthy when children are going back and forth between two households can be challenging.

How do Shelter-In-Place and Social Distancing Rules Affect Custody Arrangements?

Many court systems, including the San Diego Superior Court, have clarified that social distancing and shelter-in-place rules don’t directly affect custody orders. You should continue following your current custody arrangement unless you and your co-parent agree to an alternative plan or your custody order is formally changed by a court. Courts are making it clear that wrongful use of COVID-19 to deny court-ordered parenting time could result in penalties such as contempt of court and sanctions.

But, some parents might have valid concerns which could justify a temporary change to custody, such as:

  • You or your co-parent has been exposed to someone with COVID-19
  • You or your co-parent is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19
  • You or your co-parent has a high-risk job and is frequently exposed to COVID-19
  • You or your co-parent has an underlying condition increasing risk related to COVID-19
  • Your child has an underlying condition increasing risk related to COVID-19

What are some co-parenting guidelines for dealing with school or daycare closures?

All schools in San Diego County and throughout the State of California are closed for an extended period of time. While the schools are physically closed to students, most are still enrolled full-time and participating in “distance learning” to varying degrees. Courts have clarified that parenting time should continue as if children were still physically attending school with the same start and end times. However, some parents are still working full-time outside the home, and may not be able to care for their children during what would have been a normal school day. Courts are encouraging parents to be flexible and work together towards what is in the best interest of their children, taking into account relative work schedules.

Legal Advice and Emergency Custody Orders

If you believe that sending your child to your co-parent’s home could pose a risk to you or your child’s health, you can ask your co-parent to agree to temporarily change the custody arrangement.  Possible alternatives can be proposed, such as:

  • Temporarily postponing in-person visits for a period of time (pursuant to medical advice and/or lifting of shelter-in-place orders) and scheduling make-up visits for a later date
  • Scheduling daily phone calls and/or “virtual visits” using FaceTime or Zoom
  • Keeping in touch by sending letters, cards, and text messages.
  • Agreeing to adjust the custody plan and/or adding appropriate shelter-in-place rules for the parents, child, and other family to follow

But what happens when parents can’t agree? Custody disputes in the time of COVID-19 are new territory for both parents and family law attorneys. To complicate things even further, most courthouses have temporarily closed for nonessential cases. However, if you or your child’s health is truly at risk, you may want to seek help from a family law court. If there is a true emergency, you may be able to obtain a temporary child custody order from your local family court, despite the nonessential closures.

If you have questions about your custody arrangement as it relates to COVID-19, or if you have been unable to resolve custody issues on your own, you can contact the office of Garmo & Garmo for advice. Our family law attorneys are available for phone or video consultations.

increase in pedestrian accidents in La Mesa due to coronavirus

Pedestrian Accidents in California may Increase Because of COVID-19

For the past several weeks, California and most other states have had “stay at home” orders in place to combat the spread of the coronavirus. With more people at home and very few other exercise options at the moment, going out for walks individually or as a family has become a regular practice for many Californians during this time.

As the weather continues to warm up, pedestrian traffic is likely to continue increasing. And with more people working from home, vehicle traffic in Southern California has been a little lighter than usual. This, however, does not necessarily mean that the roads are safer. With fewer cars out there, it may be easier for motorists to speed and drive more recklessly, which could heighten the risk of an accident.

Prior to this year, pedestrian accidents had already been on the rise. Recently, the Governors Highway Association reported that there were 6,590 pedestrian fatalities in 2019, a 5% increase from 2018, and the highest number of pedestrian deaths in 30 years.

According to their report, most pedestrian fatalities take place on local roads, at night, and away from intersections. This suggests that more sidewalks and safer road crossings are needed to help prevent pedestrian crashes. Unsafe driving behaviors are another major contributor, and approximately 50% of all pedestrian accidents involve alcohol.

The conditions created by COVID-19 could cause the number of pedestrian accidents to go up, but it does not necessarily have to be this way. If we all do our part, we can help minimize the risks pedestrians have to take just to go out for a walk.

Here are some ways we can reduce pedestrian crashes in California:

For Pedestrians

  • Be Seen: Do whatever you can to ensure that motorists see you when you are out walking. Wear brightly colored clothing if you are walking during the day, and lightly colored or reflective clothing if you are walking at night. Try to stay in areas where there is plenty of lighting and do your best to make eye contact with vehicle drivers before you cross the street in front of them.
  • Be Predictable: Be familiar with all of the local traffic laws and follow them. Cross only at designated crosswalks and legal crossings and walk on sidewalks if one is available. If you must walk on the roads, walk as far to the right as you can.
  • Be Focused: Stay aware of your surroundings and pay attention to what is ahead of you. Limit your cell phone use and avoid looking at your phone when you are crossing the road.
  • Be Sober: As mentioned earlier, alcohol plays a role in about half of all pedestrian accidents, and in one third of those cases, it is the pedestrian who is intoxicated.

For Motorists

  • Drive Safely: Speeding, reckless driving, and drowsy driving are among the major factors that contribute to pedestrian accidents. Get plenty of rest before driving, and always drive in a safe and lawful manner.
  • Avoid Distraction: Distracted driving is another growing problem that is said to be contributing to the rise in pedestrian accidents. These days, drivers are continually distracted by their smartphones and the constant need to stay connected. Put your phone away when you drive, and if you must make a phone call, make sure you do so while the phone is in “hands-free” mode.
  • Avoid Alcohol: In two-thirds of all alcohol related pedestrian crashes, it is the vehicle driver who is intoxicated. Drinking and driving does not mix. It is a criminal offense in California, and it is not acceptable under any circumstances.
  • Watch for Pedestrians: With most pedestrian fatalities occurring on local roads, drivers need to be mindful of those who are out walking in their neighborhoods. Drive carefully through residential areas and be on the lookout for pedestrians.

Injured in a Pedestrian Accident in Southern California? Contact Garmo & Garmo for Assistance

If you or someone close to you got hurt in a pedestrian accident, you may have a right to significant compensation. But do not put your case on hold because of the limited court access due to the coronavirus. Although the court system is not moving as fast as normal, claims are still being filed, and the wheels of justice are still turning.

At Garmo & Garmo, we have several decades of experience successfully representing clients who have been injured in pedestrian accidents in El Cajon, San Diego, and communities throughout Southern California. Even during the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we remain fully operational and able to serve your legal needs the way we always have.

To schedule a free consultation with a member of our legal team, call us today at (619) 441-2500 or send us a message through our online contact form. We look forward to serving you!

Coronavirus and Its Legal Impact on Businesses

Coronavirus and Its Legal Impact on Businesses

The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented global event that none of us could have imagined just a month or two ago. The state of California has never ordered a complete lockdown to combat a public health emergency. Many other states have followed suit, and the federal government also has implemented social distancing guidelines that are likely to be in place for the foreseeable future.

If you are a California business owner, there is no doubt that your business and your personal life has been impacted in some way by the coronavirus pandemic. Restaurants, bars, nightclubs, schools, and all other businesses and organizations that facilitate the gathering of people have been shut down. This could mean the inability to do business, difficulty paying rent or vendors, the lack of need for supplies from various vendors, and a variety of other problems.

If your business has contractual obligations, you may have unexpectedly found that you are unable to perform such obligations because of the coronavirus outbreak. The impact of COVD-19 on businesses is resulting in contract disputes across the state.

Does the Force Majeure Doctrine Apply to Nonperformance of Contracts related to the Coronavirus?

Force majeure is a legal doctrine that protects parties from events that would be considered outside of a normal business risk. If a contract has a force majeure clause that specifies unusual risks that would excuse a party’s nonperformance, then that clause can be invoked when an event occurs that is covered within the contract.

The problem is that many contracts do not have a specific force majeure clause. If they do, it may cover events like earthquakes, fires, and mudslides, but it may be silent on a major viral outbreak. So, what can a business do if its contract does not specifically cover an event like the COVID-19 pandemic?

There are other legal doctrines that are separate but related to force majeure that could possibly excuse a party’s nonperformance. For example, California courts have held that an “impossibility” or “frustration of purpose” defense could be valid if there is an event that is:

  • Unforeseeable
  • Outside of the parties’ control
  • Renders performance of the contract impossible or impractical

It is very important to note that, because the COVD-19 outbreak is an unprecedented event, we do not yet know how the courts will apply force majeure and similar doctrines to contract disputes that result from this pandemic. Every business is unique, every contract is different, and there is specific language within each contract that needs to be examined carefully.

If you are facing a contract dispute that is related to COVID-19, it is best to have an experienced business contract attorney review your situation. At Garmo & Garmo, we can analyze your contract and advise you on the best legal strategy to deal with a nonperformance issue caused by the current pandemic.

The most desired result for all parties involved with these unfortunate contractual disputes is compromise, without the need for litigation. We all know that this is an unforeseen circumstance, and we can help you negotiate with the other party (or parties) to reach an amicable resolution. However, if contract litigation is unavoidable, we are ready and able to advocate aggressively for your rights and interests in court.

Reach out to us today at (619) 441-2500 or message us online for a free consultation. In keeping with California and federal guidelines, we are currently holding virtual consultations in compliance with the state’s stay at home order.

Does your Business Interruption Insurance cover the Coronavirus Pandemic?

Another area where contract language will be important is with a business’ commercial insurance policy. Most businesses have business interruption or business disruption insurance, either as a standalone policy or as part of a more comprehensive insurance package. Your policy may include coverage for a business slowdown or shutdown due to various events, such as earthquakes, fires, floods, and other “acts of God.” However, many policies exclude coverage for viral pandemics or do not include language that addresses this event.

Every policy is unique, and the language of each must be reviewed carefully to determine if the business has coverage for losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Your insurer may be obligated to cover you for losses caused by the pandemic, but it is also important to document and present your claim properly in order to ensure that it gets paid.

If you have a California business insurance policy and you are unsure if you are covered losses related to COVID-19, Garmo & Garmo can answer any questions you may have and provide a brief insurance policy review at no charge. Give us a call or fill out our online contact form to begin the conversation. We are all in this together, and we are here to help you during this difficult time.

divorce lawyer in La Mesa

Divorces Likely to Increase due to the Coronavirus Pandemic

The COVID-19 crisis has caused a major disruption to all of our lives. California and most other states have a “stay-at-home” order in place to keep citizens distanced from each other until the pandemic subsides, and this has resulted in the closure of countless “nonessential” businesses, causing millions to suddenly lose their jobs. The kids are going to school from home, and those of us who are still working are doing so out of our homes as well.

The end result of all this is that most Americans have been cooped up in their homes together for an extended period of time. Unless you are an essential front-line worker, you can only leave your home to go to the grocery store, pharmacy, to take a walk, and a few other limited activities.

It is difficult to predict what the effects of the coronavirus pandemic will be on couples who have been quarantined together for several weeks. This is an unprecedented situation, and how the pandemic will impact married couples is one of numerous questions that we will not know the answer to until long after this is over.

Some couples will certainly see COVID-19 as a welcome disruption to their normal routine and an opportunity to spend more time with each other. For others, it could bring tensions that have been simmering underneath the surface to a boil. A lot depends on what the health of the relationship was before all this started, how each spouse is handling the shutdown, their attitudes and worldviews, compatibility in closed quarters without much time apart, and other specific factors.

So, will the coronavirus pandemic trigger a spike in divorces, or will we see another baby boom? Only time will tell. Here are a few reasons why there is a good chance that the number of divorces will increase after COVID-19 is over:

  • People Need Space: It is a widely accepted truth that marriages benefit from spouses having time for themselves. No matter how much two people love and care for each other, being together constantly can be very unhealthy for a relationship. People need time for themselves to pursue their own interests and hobbies, maintain their individual identities, or just relax. Also, when people spend some time apart from each other, they tend to be happier and less stressed when they do get to see each other. Given these natural tendencies, couples who find themselves stuck together because of the coronavirus outbreak will need to work extra hard to keep their relationship healthy and fresh.
  • Record Numbers of Households Face Financial Distress: Money is one of the top reasons couples get divorced, and COVID-19 has created a huge amount of financial stress for many families. Being in the same home together along with tighter finances could be drive many couples over the edge and cause them to end their marriage.
  • The Increase in Domestic Violence Cases: One of the saddest unintended consequences of the coronavirus lockdown has been the rise in domestic violence cases. Law enforcement agencies across the country have reported a spike in domestic violence calls, which experts believe is largely due to the tension and stress couples and families are under being cooped up together. This tragic development could be a preview of what will happen with the divorce rate.
  • China’s Divorce Rate has risen Since the Start of COVID-19: China, the country in which the coronavirus originated, has seen a sharp rise in divorce rates since the quarantines ended. They also had a spike in domestic violence cases when they were under lockdown. China is obviously a different country than ours with a vastly different and unique culture, but higher divorce rates there could be an indication of what is to come in the Western world. We will need to keep an eye on other countries like Japan, South Korea, and Italy where the pandemic hit before it arrived here to see if this trend continues.

Whatever your Legal Needs, Garmo & Garmo is Here to Help

At Garmo & Garmo, we hope everyone is staying safe and healthy as we go through the coronavirus pandemic and deal with its aftereffects once it is over. We also hope you are taking steps to keep the valued relationships with your loved ones healthy as well. This is one of those rare shared experiences where we can truly say “we are all in this together”, and this will all be over hopefully sooner rather than later.

In the meantime, we want you to know that we are here for you if you need legal help. We are taking all the precautions and following all of the social distancing guidelines, and most of our work is being done remotely these days. The court also has limited access right now, but they are still available for emergency proceedings. Despite the current challenges, we have the technology and resources to run a fully functional practice and continue providing the experienced and skilled representation our clients have always received.

For a free consultation with one of our attorneys, message us online or call us today at (619) 441-2500. We look forward to serving you!

estate planning during coronavirus in La Mesa

Estate Planning in a COVID-19 World

In a span of just a month or so, the coronavirus pandemic has turned our country and most of the world upside down. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have tested positive for COVID-19, and because we are short on tests in many parts of the country, the real number of people who have had it probably totals well into the millions. We have already lost tens of thousands of our citizens to this virus, and no one is entirely sure when this pandemic is going to be over.

One of the most important things that the COVID-19 outbreak has done is to remind us of our own mortality. People are dying from the coronavirus every day, and it is not only the elderly and infirmed. Fatalities are happening among middle-aged individuals and even some younger adults that many never thought could succumb to the disease.

The fact that the coronavirus can be deadly should not cause us to live in fear. It should, however, prompt us to get our affairs in order, so we are fully prepared to pass our property on to the next generation and have our final wishes carried out whenever it is our time to leave this earth. We should also make sure we have a plan in place in the event that we ever become physically or mentally incapacitated and unable to manage our own affairs.

Foundational Estate Planning Documents to Consider

Everyone’s situation is unique, so each estate plan should be tailored to fit your specific needs. That said, there are several estate planning documents that would be considered essential for many individuals:

  • Last Will and Testament: Having a will is a necessity for just about everyone, regardless of their circumstances. Without it, your loved ones could be facing a long and drawn out probate process after you pass on, with the courts having the final say on how your estate is distributed and who becomes guardian of any minor children you may have. With a last will and testament, all of your final wishes are spelled out for you, and you are able to appoint an executor (someone you fully trust) to carry out your directives. This helps ensure that probate goes smoothly and the chances of conflict among family members are minimal.
  • Advance Health Care Directive: Also referred to as a living will, an advance health care directive is a document that spells out how healthcare should be administered to you under various scenarios should you be unable to make these decisions at the time. For example, you can decide which procedures you would like to have and which ones to forgo, end-of-life pain relief decisions, and many others. This document should also appoint a health care agent/health care power of attorney, which again should be someone you fully trust to see to it that your wishes regarding health care decisions are carried out.
  • Financial Power of Attorney: In addition to a healthcare power of attorney, you should also appoint a financial power of attorney to make financial decisions on your behalf should you become unable to do so yourself. A financial power of attorney would be authorized to manage your bank account, pay bills, manage business affairs, and make any other decisions related to your finances. Once again, make sure this is someone you are absolutely certain you can trust in this area.
  • Revocable Living Trust: A revocable living trust is a slightly more advanced estate planning document that creates a separate entity in which you can hold your assets. Any property you place into your trust can be distributed directly to your designated beneficiaries when you pass on, thus bypassing the need for probate. Having a trust also ensures privacy – since it does not go through probate, it does not become part of the court record.

Contact Garmo & Garmo for All Your Estate Planning Needs

Estate planning is not just for the affluent, and the coronavirus outbreak has reminded us that it is necessary at any age. At Garmo & Garmo, we have extensive experience helping clients in Southern California with all types of estate plans – from the simplest to the most complex. We also want you to know that we are open and fully operational even as our state and nation deals with the COVID-19 pandemic. We are doing most of our work remotely as we follow all of the social distancing guidelines, but we have the technology and resources to handle whatever legal needs you may have.

To get in touch with a member of our legal team, message us online or call us today at (619) 441-2500. We look forward to serving you!