On August 5th, 2020, Governor Brian Kemp signed into law the “Georgia COVID-19 Pandemic Business Safety Act” putting new business liability protections into effect. This Act is similar to legislation that has been passed in other states such as Alaska, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, and North Carolina.
The 2020 Session brought several liability bills to enact liability protections for businesses due to COVID-19, but ultimately it was the “Georgia COVID-19 Pandemic Business Safety Act” (SB 359) that won final passage on June 26th.
This Act sets the standard that “no healthcare facility, healthcare provider, entity, or individual, shall be held liable for damages in an action involving a COVID-19 liability claim against such healthcare facility, healthcare provider, entity, or individual 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”. Essentially, all covered entities have immunity from COVID-19 related liability claims unless the claimant is able to prove said entity acted with “gross negligence”.
Additionally, the Act provides that (except in cases where gross negligence is found) there is a “rebuttable presumption of assumption of the risk” by the claimant so long as the entity has posted a specific warning sign on its premises. This sign must be typed in at least one-inch (72pt) Arial font and placed separately from any other text or signage. It must state the following:
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.
Regardless of if a warning is posted or not, the rebuttable presumption does not apply if the entity is found to have acted with “gross negligence”.
The liability protections under the “Georgia COVID-19 Pandemic Business Safety Act” extend to “manufacturing, labeling, donating, or distributing personal protective equipment or sanitizer that is directly related to providing such personal protective equipment or sanitizer to claimant by any entity during a public health state of emergency for COVID-19, which departs from the normal manufacturing, labeling, donating, or distributing personal protective equipment of such entity that proximately results in injury to or death of a claimant”.
To view the full text of the “Georgia COVID-19 Pandemic Business Safety Act” (SB 359), click here.
All cited language within this post was taken directly from the text of SB 359.