In its current session, the Georgia Legislature considered ten bills that, if passed, would have directly impacted the transportation industry in the state. The last day of the Georgia legislative session, known as sine die, was March 29, 2023. The final disposition of each bill is listed below, but here are the key takeaways:
The passage of Senate Bill 168 is significant as it gives lien-rights to chiropractors, which will make it more difficult to negotiate those medical bills and ultimately to resolve cases involving chiropractic care. The requirement that bills be submitted to health insurers could potentially mitigate this issue, but only in instances where a plaintiff is insured.
Below we summarize the final disposition of each bill.
Raises damages minimum required for twelve-person jury demands from $25,000 to $100,000. This bill awaits signature from Governor Kemp.
Formally adopts the “Apex Doctrine” in Georgia to limit depositions of high-ranking corporate officials. Where discovery is sought from certain high ranking corporate or public employees, a court may protect a person or party from “annoyance, embarrassment, oppression or undue burden or expense” with measures including limiting the scope and manner of discovery and maintaining confidentiality of certain information. This bill did not receive a vote in the Senate, so did not pass.
Eliminates direct-action claims against insurers of motor carriers. Note that Georgia is currently only one of four states that still allow direct-action claims. This bill did not pass the House.
Limits discovery in civil actions:
This bill did not pass the House.
Extends COVID liability protections to businesses and healthcare providers without an expiration date so long as they are not grossly negligent in conducting their operations. This bill did not receive a hearing.
Like HB 271, repeals provisions authorizing direct-action claims against insurance carriers of motor carriers. This bill was not called to the Senate floor, so did not pass.
Like HB 275, limits discovery in civil actions:
This bill did not pass the Senate.
Provides that failure to wear a seatbelt is admissible as evidence of negligence in civil actions. Note that the bill was defeated in the Senate Transportation Committee but subsequently resurrected and narrowly passed on committee vote on February 27, 2023. This bill did not pass the Senate, falling short by 5 votes.
Like HB 530, formally adopts the Apex Doctrine to limit depositions of high-ranking corporate officials. SB 200 provides that where discovery is sought from certain high ranking corporate or public employees, a court may protect a person or party from “annoyance, embarrassment, oppression or undue burden or expense” with measures including limiting scope and manner of discovery and maintaining confidentiality of certain information. As noted above, this bill was not called to the Senate floor as Senate leadership decided to work on HB 530 in the Senate (we note that HB 530 did not pass; both bills failed).
This bill passed the Senate (though only once meaningful language was removed). It was not heard in the House, so did not pass.