Yesterday, Georgia’s Governor Kemp signed Senate Bill 359, the COVID-19 Pandemic Business Safety Act, which will go into effect August 7th. SB 359 says that no healthcare facility, healthcare provider, entity, or individual, shall be held liable for damages in an action involving a COVID-19 liability claim unless the claimant proves that the actions of the healthcare facility, healthcare provider, entity, or individual, showed: gross negligence, willful and wanton misconduct, reckless infliction of harm, or intentional infliction of harm. This raises the standard of care from negligence to gross negligence and will help prevent frivolous COVID-19 related lawsuits.
A business entity may take advantage of a rebuttable presumption that claimants assumed the risk of injury and damage from the contraction of COVID-19 by entry upon the business’ premises so long as the business posts the statutorily-sanctioned warning, which must be in 1 inch Arial font at minimum and posted separately at entry:
Warning: Under Georgia law, there is no liability for an injury or death of an individual entering these premises if such injury or death results from the inherent risks of contracting COVID-19. You are assuming this risk by entering these premises.
This Georgia legislation would protect businesses from COVID-19 related lawsuits brought by customers, the public and employees. It would not affect employees’ right to bring workers’ compensation claims. It also would not affect their right to file complaints about workplace safety with OSHA.
The protections in the bill exist until July 14, 2021. The General Assembly will revisit this issue in the 2021 legislative session if needed. The US Congress is also considering federal COVID liability protections that could enhance the protections provided by the state. We anticipate action at the federal level this month.
TBM will continue to monitor any developments. You can print copies of the above-mentioned warning to be presented at your place of business Here.