As Georgia schools and other businesses respond to open and operate safely in the face of the COVID-19 Pandemic, many are posting warning signs consistent with a new law in the state passed to protect them from liability.
Georgia-based Business and Healthcare Law Firm
This summer, Georgia joined many other states in passing a law to protect businesses including healthcare facilities and workers from liability from lawsuits brought by individuals or their survivors related to infections from or exposure to COVID-19 in visiting the premises of or obtaining healthcare services or personal protective equipment from those facilities, entities or individuals. Senate Bill 359, signed by the Governor on August 5, 2020 provides that no healthcare facility or provider, entity or individual shall be liable for damages in an action involving a “COVID-19 liability claim” unless the claimant proves the actions of the healthcare facility, entity or individual resulted from gross negligence, willful and wanton misconduct, reckless or intentional infliction of harm.
The law defines “COVID-19 liability claim” as a cause of action for the following:
(A) transmission, infection, exposure, or potential exposure of COVID-19 to a claimant: (i) at any healthcare facility or on the premises of any entity, individual, or healthcare provider, resulting in injury to or death of a claimant; or (ii) caused by actions of any healthcare provider or individual resulting in injury to or death of a claimant;
(B) acts or omissions by a healthcare facility or healthcare provider in arranging for or providing healthcare services or medical care to the claimant resulting in injury or death of the claimant for COVID-19 or where the response to COVID-19 reasonably interfered with the arranging for or the providing of healthcare services or medical care at issue to the claimant; or
(C) 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.
A business “entity” protected by the law includes any association, institution, corporation, company, trust, limited liability company, partnership, religious or educational organization, political subdivision, county, municipality, other governmental office or governmental body, department, division, bureau, volunteer organization; including trustees, partners, limited partners, managers, officers, directors, employees, contractors, independent contractors, vendors, officials, and agents thereof, as well as any other organization other than a healthcare facility.
The law provides that there is a rebuttable presumption of risk by a claimant in the following circumstances: (1) any receipt or proof of purchase for entry, including but not limited to an electronic or paper ticket or wristband, issued to a claimant by the individual or entity for entry or attendance, includes a statement in at least ten-point Arial font placed apart from any other text, stating the following warning: “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.”; or (2) an individual or entity of the premises has posted at a point of entry, if present, to the premises, a sign in at least one-inch Arial font placed apart from any other text, a written warning stating the following:
“Warning. 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.”
Our Georgia and South Carolina healthcare law firm represents and advises healthcare systems, hospitals, physician provider groups, medical practices and individual healthcare providers concerning federal, state and local legal, compliance and regulatory matters. If you have questions about this post, contact us at (404) 685-1662 (Atlanta) or (706) 722-7886 (Augusta), or by email, firstname.lastname@example.org. You may learn more about our law firm by visiting www.hamillittle.com.
** Disclaimer: Thoughts shared here do not constitute legal advice. Please consult with an attorney to discuss your legal issue.