Under a new law, Georgia businesses can substantially mitigate their liability risks for lawsuits where a customer or other person claims to have contracted COVID-19 at their premises. The Georgia COVID-19 Pandemic Business Safety Act, signed into law by Governor Kemp on August 5, 2020, creates a “rebuttable presumption” that a person claiming to have contracted COVID-19 at a business assumed the risk of infection if the business posted certain warnings. The new law protects all “entities,” including corporations, limited liability companies, and other organizations, as well as their directors, officers, employees, managers, and agents. Ultimately, if a business complies with the statute by posting statutorily-approved language, it is immune from claims seeking damages arising out of alleged COVID-19 exposure at the business premises, absent gross negligence or reckless or intentional infliction of harm.
To avail itself of this new legal protection, a business should:
Post the Warning.
The following warning must be posted:
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.
Make the Warning Conspicuous.
By law, a business must post the warning
- at a point of entry to the premises,
- in at least one-inch Arial font, and
- placed apart from any other text.
However, to maximize the protections provided under the Act, businesses should post the warning at points of entry most frequently used and most likely to be seen by invitees, such as main entrances, common areas and entrances to garages, and post the warning in large, clear Arial font and type.
Consider Posting the Warning in Languages Other Than English.
All businesses, and especially those that are regularly visited by non-English speaking persons, should consider posting the approved warning in language(s) known to be spoken by their invitees. English and Spanish are advisable, though other languages may be warranted.
Businesses should document both in writing and with photographs compliance with the statute, including initial posting and follow up confirmation the warnings remain conspicuous.
If you would like assistance with compliance and guidance regarding the new protections afforded by the Georgia COVID-19 Pandemic Business Safety Act, the attorneys at Morris, Manning & Martin, LLP, are prepared to help. Please contact Seslee S. Smith at 404.504.7673 for more information.