Your Legal Rights With Coronavirus

(WSVN) - Everyone’s talking about the coronavirus, an in one way or another, it will affect all of us, but what legal rights do you have? A lot of questions, so let’s bring in Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser with a lot of answers.

The Leyh’s were excited. Their granddaughter from Ohio was flying down to spend time with them, and then, the coronavirus hit.

Paul Leyh, coronavirus altered plans: “We told her that we were concerned because for them on the plane because of the recycled air.”

Stephanie realized she could catch something on a flight and rather than risk getting her grandparents sick, she decided to cancel her trip.

Patrick Fraser: “Howard, can she get a full refund from the airline?”

Howard Finkelstein, 7 News Legal Expert: “Legally, no, you are bound by your contract, but many airlines are being flexible and allowing for a full refund and waiving change fees, so you can rebook later.”

Delta was nice enough to return her money. Then, she called the car rental agency to get a refund.

Paul Leyh: “She contacted them and told them all this, and they said there would be no refund.”

Patrick Fraser: “Stephanie wants to be careful and so do many other people, so Howard, can you cancel with a car rental agency or a hotel?”

Howard Finkelstein: “It depends on the contract. Some hotels and car rental agencies let you cancel within a certain time frame, others do not. Look at your agreement.”

Patrick Fraser: “What about cruise lines?”

Howard Finkelstein: “Cruise lines normally don’t let you cancel, but due to the coronavirus, they have made their policies flexible, and while you won’t get your money back, you can apply for a credit for a future cruise.”

Patrick Fraser: “Howard, there are so many coronavirus-related questions that we are hearing from South Floridians, so let’s hit them. The governor declared a state of emergency. Legally, what does that mean to the residents of Florida?”

Howard Finkelstein: “It doesn’t mean much to me and you, but it means a lot to the people who run government agencies. They can cut through red tape. For example, buy emergency supplies without having to go through the normal approval process, so it actually makes the government more efficient.”

Patrick Fraser: “The federal government has taken passengers who tested positive for the coronavirus to military bases to be quarantined, basically locking them up. Can the feds do that to you if you say, ‘Stop, I don’t want to be quarantined.'”

Howard Finkelstein: “Yes, the government has broad and expansive powers to protect the public health. That includes isolating you, quarantining you, even locking you up, whatever the federal government, state or the county government sees as necessary.

Patrick Fraser: “You are at work, you feel sick. Can your boss force you to go home? And if so, for how long?”

Howard Finkelstein: “Absolutely, Patrick, and you can be forced to stay away for as long as the company thinks is necessary. Do you get paid? It depends on your company’s policies.”

Patrick Fraser: “Howard, a co-worker appears to be sick and won’t leave work. Legally, what can you do?

Howard Finkelstein: “Not much, Patrick. If the boss lets them stay and you don’t like it, you can leave, but it might cost you your job.”

Patrick Fraser: “There is a concert or a sporting event. It goes on, but you have no desire to sit in a crowded stadium. Are you entitled to getting your money back?”

Howard Finkelstein: “No, if the event goes on, it’s your choice. Go or lose your money. If it’s postponed for a year like the Ultra concert, that’s tricky. I think you get your money back, but it will take a judge to decide.”

Patrick Fraser: “In Broward, people have tested positive for the coronavirus. The state health department is keeping their identity a secret, which makes sense, but they won’t tell where they live, where they have shopped. You or I may have come in contact with them. Can the state keep that information from us?”

Howard Finkelstein: “Yes, it bothers some people because they might be a casual friend or acquaintance. They might be a neighbor, but we are back to the government has the power to do whatever they feel is necessary, and while you may want to know where a victim lived or shopped, the government doesn’t have to tell you.”

It seems the coronavirus is causing changes in our lives every single day. That means it might be causing you problems.

If you need information or help, you know where to find us. We will be here to do what we can for you with the coronavirus or any other problems you have.

CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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