In early August 2020, Georgia governor Brian Kemp signed a new law extending liability protections for local businesses. As the 2020 pandemic continues to spread, lawmakers look for creative ways to curb the worst of the economic fallout. This act focuses on keeping businesses afloat.
The COVID-19 Pandemic Business Safety Act limits a business’ liability for some pandemic-related claims. How does the new law work?
How the law protects Georgia’s business owners
The new law does not allow immediate and comprehensive protection from liability lawsuits related to the pandemic. The act disallows anyone holding a business entity liable for damages involving COVID-19 unless the victim can prove gross negligence, willful and wanton misconduct, or reckless or intentional infliction of harm. Lawmakers claim that since tracking virus exposure is inaccurate with current tools, proving one’s point of exposure in court may be impossible. Georgia officials believe that punishing businesses who operate in good faith would only inhibit the nation’s recovery.
The new law grants businesses a “rebuttable presumption of assumption of risk.” To qualify, businesses and healthcare providers must post a sign that informs patrons they assume any virus-related risk upon entering the premises. Additionally, lawmakers recommend that business owners do everything they can to shield patrons from exposure. Businesses can review the Centers for Disease Control guidelines on safe operations.
A nation in recovery
Georgia is the ninth state to join the likes of Louisiana, Utah, Oklahoma, North Carolina, and Wyoming in offering extended protections to places of business. The Georgia legislature hopes this will curb spending anxiety on behalf of business owners and encourage businesses to continue to offer their services during the extended pandemic.
Bring questions to a lawyer
These new laws do not limit victims seeking damages in cases of gross negligence or intent. A local attorney familiar with personal injury and premises liability law can answer questions, assess a case under the new law, and file suit.