Yesterday, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed into law S.B. 359, which will protect businesses and other organizations in Georgia from potential lawsuits over Covid-19 exposure. The law takes effect immediately.
Georgia businesses, and healthcare facilities and providers in particular, will generally be protected from liability over COVID-19 exposure except in cases of gross negligence, willful and wanton misconduct, reckless infliction of harm, or intentional infliction of harm.
Furthermore, businesses can provide additional protection from liability by posting or printing specific warnings, which will create a rebuttable presumption of assumption of the risk by a claimant.
The rebuttable presumption of assumption of the risk is created by printing the following warning on 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:
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.
Alternatively, businesses and healthcare facilities or providers can post the following sign at a point of entry to the premises, in at least one-inch Arial font placed apart from any other text:
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.
Seven other states–Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Utah, and Wyoming, have passed similar measures. Other states, including Nevada, Ohio and Tennessee, are considering similar legislation. Senate Republicans are trying to include immunity on a federal level in the next coronavirus relief package. Stay tuned for more developments!
Kathleen J. Jennings is an attorney licensed to practice law in Georgia and New York. She graduated from Cornell University, College of Arts & Sciences, with distinction and New York University School of Law. She is a principal in the Atlanta office of Wimberly, Lawson, Steckel, Schneider, & Stine, P.C. and defends employers in employment matters, such as sexual harassment, discrimination, Wage and Hour, OSHA, restrictive covenants, and other employment litigation and provides training and counseling to employers in employment matters. She can be contacted at email@example.com.
©2020 Kathleen J. Jennings
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