COVID-19 legal responsibility safety passports in Georgia

On June 26, 2020, the Georgia General Assembly passed the COVID-19 Pandemic Business Safety Act (Senate Act 359). If entered into force, the bill would protect companies, healthcare providers and other companies from liability related to infection or transmission caused by Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), except in cases where the company is determined to be “grossly negligent.” , Has committed willful misconduct, reckless infliction of harm or willful infliction of harm. “The bill was sent to Governor Kemp for approval on June 29, 2020. The governor’s office declined to comment on the bill, except that, like all laws, it is subject to legal review.

Protection of Georgia

Governor Kemp previously added executive orders to temporary liability protection for healthcare providers and other companies, provided they followed specific health and safety guidelines. However, this protection will expire on July 12, 2020 unless the governor further extends the March declaration of emergency

If goes into effect, Georgian law may further protect companies from COVID-19-related lawsuits filed by customers, members of the public and employees. In particular, the legislation creates a rebuttable presumption of risk assumption when an individual or company presents a statutory warning, either: (1) on a receipt or as part of proof of purchase for entry; or (2) as a signposted warning sign at the entry point of the company premises. The law specifically lists the language, size, font, and location for each type of warning. In addition, the legislation provides similar protection for healthcare facilities and providers who have a warning posted at the entrance to the facility.

While the law can protect against some claims, businesses, individuals, and other businesses are not protected when there is gross negligence, willful misconduct, reckless deduction of harm, or willful infliction of harm. The law does not affect the right of workers to bring workers claims for damages or to file complaints with OSHA regarding workplace safety.

The law enters into force: (1) upon approval by the governor; (2) under the law without such authorization; or (3) August 7, 2020, whichever comes first. It is important that the law applies to claims that arise by July 14, 2021.

Protection of business liability

Georgia is not the first country to pass laws to protect companies from liability. Numerous states have passed laws or regulations that give companies immunity from civil liability for claims related to COVID-19, including: Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Utah, and Wyoming. The scope of protection varies from state to state.

© 2021 Greenberg Sad, LLP. All rights reserved. National Law Review, Volume X, Number 191