Georgia lawmakers may extend COVID-19 lawsuit protections

Georgia lawmakers will consider extending limits on COVID-19-related lawsuits under a bill introduced this week. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM
Georgia lawmakers will consider extending limits on COVID-19-related lawsuits under a bill introduced this week. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM

Georgia lawmakers will consider extending limits on COVID-19-related lawsuits under a bill introduced this week.

House Bill 112 would limit the ability of people to sue businesses and health care providers if they are diagnosed with the disease. Lawmakers approved such limits last summer, but they expire in July. HB 112 would extend the lawsuit protection until July 2022.

Under the law, companies are shielded from legal liability unless they show “gross negligence, willful and wanton misconduct, reckless infliction of harm, or intentional infliction of harm.”

Business groups sought the protections so firms can remain open during the coronavirus pandemic while following social distancing and other safety protocols outlined by public health officials. Critics said gross negligence is extremely difficult to prove, and the law leaves people who get sick little recourse if their employers or the businesses they frequent are at fault.

HB 112 is sponsored by Rep. Trey Kelley, R-Cedartown, who led negotiations over last year’s legislation.

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