Wrongful death is difficult no matter the time or circumstances, but during a pandemic wrongful death cases can be even more difficult to handle both emotionally and legally.
Generally, a wrongful death case occurs when an individual loses their life due to the negligence of another – that could involve a vehicle accident, workplace accident, or a wide variety of other accidents that cause an individual to lose their life. What makes things difficult with COVID-19 is in Georgia, Senate Bill 359 has passed limiting the liability of businesses regarding the spread of the virus.
What does Georgia, Senate Bill 359 mean for those contracting COVID-19 due to the negligence of a business?
This bill prevents nearly all wrongful death claims due to the contraction of COVID-19 in facilities considered as “covered entities.” These entities include:
- Health care facilities
- Medical providers
- Limited Liability Companies
- Religious organizations
- Educational organizations
- Political subdivisions
- Volunteer organizations
- Government offices
- Counties and municipalities
This does not mean that all wrongful death claims are null and void. This bill essentially raises the bar for these claims. If someone can prove gross negligence by one of these entities, which causes a loved one to contract COVID-19 and subsequently pass away, there may be a valid case.
What does the bill do?
The bill is designed to protect medical facilities, businesses, and other entities from liability related to COVID-19. One way the bill protects these covered entities is by adding the assumption of risk defense. This means that those who enter businesses are already aware that they are putting themselves at a higher risk to contract the virus, and therefore take responsibility for their health. This is only applicable if the business or facility has a post, or provides you with some sort of document stating that you are waiving your right to seek compensation for potential infection of COVID-19 by entering the premises. For more information about the bill, GO HERE (https://www.natlawreview.com/article/georgia-enacts-covid-19-legal-immunity-healthcare-providers-businesses)
Should I try to pursue a wrongful death case with this new bill?
Absolutely. The bill doesn’t completely remove liability from these entities, and you very well may have a case. The main thing the law requires is clear documentation and evidence that gross negligence, willful and wanton misconduct, reckless infliction of harm, or intentional infliction of harm, by the individual or entity of the premises occurred.
Wrongful death cases due to COVID-19 are difficult to pursue but are not impossible. It is always best to reach out to your attorney to discuss your options. There may be other legal avenues that you can pursue, but you would never know unless consulting with a legal professional.
We at the Fry | Goehring have a duty to our clients to ensure they are compensated fairly and justly. If you contact us with a potential case, we will do everything in our power to pursue your damages and provide you with the compensation you deserve.