July 6, 2020
Authored by: Matt Macia
On June 26, 2020, Georgia’s Legislature passed the “Georgia COVID-19 Pandemic Business Safety Act” (the “Act”). The Act provides Georgia businesses with certain defenses and immunities for potential liability from claims related to the spread of COVID-19. These immunities apply broadly to the health care facilities and providers as well as other business entities and individuals.
Under the Act, no covered entity or individual will “be held liable for damages in an action involving a COVID-19 liability claim . . . unless the claimant proves that the actions . . . showed: gross negligence, willful and wanton misconduct, reckless infliction of harm, or intentional infliction of harm.”
Other than in cases of gross negligence, willful and wanton misconduct, reckless infliction of harm, or intentional infliction of harm, the Act creates a rebuttable presumption that claimants—as well as the claimants’ survivors or their estates—assumed the risk of the damages or injuries suffered when a covered entity or individual provides a specific warning.
The immunities only apply to causes of action accruing from the date the Act becomes law, or from August 7, 2020, whichever is earlier. As of the date of this post, the Act has not yet been signed by Georgia’s Governor or otherwise become law without such approval. It appears that any potential liability which may have already accrued or will accrue before the Act becomes law is not immune under the Act.
The immunity the Act does create will also expire on July 14, 2021.