Georgia has become the latest state to enact legislation designed to shield healthcare facilities and providers from legal liability related to the spread of COVID-19.
Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law Senate Bill 359, known as the “Georgia COVID-19 Pandemic Business Safety Act.” Under the law, healthcare facilities, healthcare providers, businesses, individuals, state government agencies and other entities cannot be held liable for damages involving a COVID-19 liability claim, except in limited situations of “gross negligence, willful and wanton misconduct, reckless infliction of harm or intentional infliction of harm.”
The law defines a COVID-19 liability claim as including “transmission, infection, exposure or potential exposure” to the virus at a healthcare facility. The liability protections also extend to claims related to the manufacturing, labeling, donation or distribution of personal protective equipment or sanitizer during the pandemic.
Facilities are required to post a warning noting that anyone entering assumes risk of exposure to the virus.
Those protected by the law include individuals, companies and organizations that own or operate a healthcare provider or healthcare facility and provide care.
Several states have issued executive orders that limit, to some extent, the liability of long-term care facilities and / or healthcare workers for care provided during the coronavirus pandemic, including Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, Nevada, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin.
New York recently walked back its blanket protections granted to senior living communities and nursing homes. Chicago, IL-based law firm Seyfarth Shaw LLP assembled a list of survey liability protections for senior living and other long-term care facilities in all 50 states.