On August 5, 2020, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed legislation (SB 359) limiting certain liability related to COVID-19. Under the law, no healthcare facility, healthcare provider, entity, or individual will be held liable for damages in an action involving a COVID-19 liability claim unless the person bringing the claim (claimant) can prove that the actions of the healthcare facility, healthcare provider, entity, or individual showed:
- Gross negligence;
- Willful and wanton misconduct;
- Reckless infliction of harm; or
- Intentional infliction of harm.
The COVID-19 liability claims covered by this limited liability law are:
- The transmission, infection, exposure, or potential exposure of COVID-19 to a claimant:
- At any healthcare facility or on the premises of any entity, individual, or healthcare provider, resulting in the claimant’s injury or death; or
- Caused by actions of any healthcare provider or individual resulting in the claimant’s injury or death;
- A healthcare facility or healthcare providers’ acts or omissions when providing or arranging for healthcare services or medical care to the claimant, which result in the claimant’s injury or death from COVID-19, or where the response to COVID-19 reasonably interfered with arranging for or providing healthcare services or medical care at issue for the claimant; or
- When an entity manufactures, labels, donates, or distributes personal protective equipment or sanitizer to the claimant during a COVID-19 public health state of emergency, which departs from their normal manufacturing, labeling, donating, or distributing personal protective equipment, and it results in the claimant’s injury or death.
The law also enacts a presumption that a claimant assumed the risk of transmission, infection, or potential exposure to COVID-19 when on an entity’s or individual’s premises when either of the following apply:
- Any receipt or proof of purchase for entry (for instance, a ticket or wristband) the claimant received for entry or attendance has a statement (in at least ten-point Arial font placed apart from any other text) with 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
- A written warning is posted at the entry to the premises on a sign (in at least one-inch Arial font placed apart from any other text) with 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.'
The law took effect on August 5, 2020 and applies until July 14, 2021.