Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law the Georgia COVID-19 Pandemic Business Safety Act that protects businesses and healthcare providers from civil liability for coronavirus-related injury and wrongful death lawsuits.
The new state law comes as U.S. Senate Republicans and trying to pass a similar law at the federal level. We commented on that proposed law on Aug. 3 and noted that the “The Safe to Work Act” would make it nearly impossible for employees, customers or patients to receive damages for injuries that could be related to COVID-19. Democrats and workers and consumer advocacy groups are working against that bill saying it is too broad.
Under the new Georgia law, businesses and healthcare providers in the state cannot be held liable for deaths or injuries related to coronavirus exposure, infection or treatment unless the injured party can show that a defendant committed gross negligence or willful misconduct.
The new law states that a business can post a COVID-19 warning sign outside the premises and that sign essentially acts as a liability waiver for virus injuries. Plaintiffs would have to overcome a presumption that they assumed the risk of entering the establishment. The law does say that this additional legal hurdle is not required in cases of gross negligence.
The law takes effect immediately and remains in effect until July 14, 2021. Georgia is now one of about a dozen states that have enacted a COVID-19 liability shield for businesses.
The new law comes into effect as the virus continues to rage across the state. Already, more than 4,000 people have died from COVID-19 in Georgia. This is one more reminder that people must take proactive measures to protect themselves as the state continues to reopen.