New Georgia Law for COVID-19 Transmission Claims
This month a new Georgia law was enacted which attempts to address some of the risks of operating a business during the pandemic. The Georgia COVID-19 Pandemic Business Safety Act is especially helpful for businesses that have physical facilities and offices. It also covers government agencies, religious and educational organizations.
The law protects operators of premises from liability against claims of transmission, infection or exposure to COVID-19. It also protects certain manufacturers and distributors of personal protective equipment against claims related to the production, labeling, donation or distribution of PPE and sanitizers.
What You Need to Do to Be Covered
To receive protection of this law, premises must have a sign at the point of entry that includes the following specific wording. The sign must be apart from any other text, and must be in at least one-inch Arial font:
“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.”
Alternatively, any receipt or proof of purchase for entry or attendance (including a ticket or wristband) may include the statement, which must be apart from any other text, and must be in at least 10-point Arial font:
“Any person entering the premises waives all civil liability against this premises owner and operator for any injuries caused by the inherent risk associated with contracting COVID-19 at public gatherings, except for gross negligence, willful and wanton misconduct, reckless infliction of harm, or intentional infliction of harm, by the individual or entity of the premises.”
Who is Covered and For How Long
The law applies to customers, the public and employees. However, it does not affect workers' compensation or OSHA claims. The law applies to claims accruing until July 14, 2021.
What is Not Protected
The law creates a presumption that a claimant assumed the risk of contracting COVID-19, as long as the above actions are taken. It is not the same as having total immunity from such claims. This law only applies to ordinary negligence claims and does not protect against claims of gross negligence, willful misconduct or reckless or intentional infliction of harm.
Not The Last Word
Georgia is the tenth state to have enacted similar laws, and there has been pressure on Congress to enact a federal law that provides similar protection. However, it is likely that this law will be challenged in court for a variety of reasons, among which is the fact that some of the language of this law is quite vague. Also, even absent a law like this, liability waivers are not a sure thing. But for the time being, businesses should take advantage of this liability shield by taking the specific steps outlined above.
If you have any questions, please contact Tanya Osensky at firstname.lastname@example.org or 404.369.5126.