Suing a Government Agency for Accident Injuries
When you’ve been injured in an automobile accident, you naturally to want to hold the person at fault accountable for your monetary damages. This may include suing a private company and in some cases a government agency. A negligent driver may have been working for the state or a county or municipality at the time of the accident. Negligent maintenance of a public highway or building may have been a cause of the accident. It’s important to know that special procedural and timing rules apply when the defendant is a government agency.
In Georgia, two important limitations on government liability for negligence are sovereign immunity and extra strict requirements concerning notice of claims.
Sovereign immunity means that a government can only be sued if it consents to the suit. It is based in historical common law and adopted by the Georgia Constitution. The constitution allows the state legislature to provide exemptions to sovereign immunity, which permit injured parties to bring lawsuits against agencies in limited circumstances. However, state law also places caps on the damages that the agency may be required to pay when a lawsuit is permitted. An experienced Georgia personal injury attorney can advise you about how sovereign immunity might preclude a lawsuit in your case or limit your recovery of damages.
In addition to sovereign immunity, injured parties must comply with special notice requirements when they sue a government agency. A plaintiff must serve the agency with an “ante litem” (“before litigation”) notice. It is intended to inform the agency of the potential lawsuit as soon as possible and, if appropriate, allow for an early settlement of the case to keep the cost to the government at a minimum. If an injured party fails to serve an ante litem by the deadline, he or she may be barred from filing a complaint against the agency unless good cause for the lapse is shown.
The Law Office of S. Mark Mitchell, LLC in Newnan, Georgia is experienced with the unique challenges presented in suits against the government agencies and how to meet those challenges. If you or a loved one has been injured due to the actions or negligence of a government agency or employee, contact me online or give me a call at 470-344-8550 for an initial consultation.