The draft legislation to increase COVID-19 legal responsibility safety is lastly handed by Georgian Legislature Georgia

(The Center Square) – The Senate cleared a bill to extend the length of time that Georgia companies are protected from certain COVID-19-related lawsuits.

The Senate voted 36-17 for House bill 112, which extends the applicability of the Georgia COVID-19 Pandemic Business Safety Act for one year from July 14, 2021 to July 14, 2022.

Senator Brian Strickland, R-McDonough, who tabled the bill on Wednesday, said it offered a balance to companies that stay open during the pandemic.

“All we’re doing with House Bill 112 is to extend the sunset of our COVID Immunity Bill, which continues to provide stability to our citizens as we steer another year of COVID-19,” Strickland said.

The Georgia COVID-19 Pandemic Business Safety Act prevents healthcare facilities and providers, as well as other businesses, including those who sell personal protective equipment, from being sued for possible exposure to or transmission of COVID-19. It excludes protective measures for companies or health care providers who have proven to be negligent or guilty of having committed “willful and willful misconduct, reckless infliction of damage or willful infliction of damage”.

Senator Jennifer Jordan, D-Atlanta, tabled an amendment Wednesday that would allow essential workers to file compensation claims from workers when they contract COVID-19.

“The two areas that a worker can fall back on and especially the essential workers who are at stake in their family’s health and who emerge every day to open and work for the companies we are now praising , they have absolutely no recourse if they get sick, “said Jordan.

The Jordanian amendment failed, as did another amendment aimed at removing some of the exceptions for gross negligence.

The move was supported by the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association, the Georgia Hospital Association, and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce.

“I think the bill strikes the right balance by allowing gross negligence to continue,” Strickland said. “From a legal perspective, at the very least, you should be following the instructions you were given at this point. So we expect companies to take some precautionary measures and that is the balance you see on this bill.”

HB 112 cleared the house between 99 and 68 in the last month. It must have final approval from Governor Brian Kemp.

Kemp issued an executive order in April that included similar liability protection for health care workers during the public health emergency of COVID-19.