Suing the City After a Car Accident Requires a Perfect Ante Litem Notice Letter within Six Months

When a Georgia personal injury lawsuit is brought against a municipality, there are laws that require that certain procedural requirements must be followed in order for the case to be heard by the court. One of the primary requirements of the GTCA is the ante-litem notice requirement contained in OCGA § 36-33-5. Specifically, cities (known as municipalities in the law) have to be put on written notice within 6 months of the tort and the notice must strictly comply with the statutory requirements. If they don't, the case is thrown out of the courts.

OCGA § 36-33-5 requires that a claimant provide the agency being sued with details regarding the accident as well as the alleged acts of negligence giving rise to the claim. The claimant has six months from the date of injury to file this notice. On July 1, 2014, an amendment to the GTCA was added, requiring that claimants also provide “the specific amount of monetary damages being sought . . . [which] shall constitute an offer of compromise.” What that means is, you have to say exactly how much you are seeking and the number you put in the letter is an offer to settle the case that the City can accept.

A recent case discusses the amendment, illustrating how strictly courts interpret the GTCA and its requirements.

The Facts of the Case

In this particular case, the lawyers for the plaintiff screwed up. The plaintiff was injured in in a Georgia car accident while riding as a passenger in her husband’s truck. The plaintiff claimed that the other driver, a police officer, was responsible for the collision. The plaintiff filed ante-litem notice with the city describing when and where the accident occurred, as well as describing the allegedly negligent acts of the police officer. The plaintiff sought “full recovery allowed by Georgia law, including, but not limited to, damages for past and future pain and suffering, past and future medical expenses, and past and future lost wages.” They did not include any specific dollar amount and that was the fatal mistake.

The city moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s claim based on the fact that her ante-litem notice was insufficient. The city argued that the amendment requiring the plaintiff provide a “specific amount of monetary damages” was not met by the plaintiff’s general request for “full recovery allowed by law.”

The court agreed with the city, and dismissed the plaintiff’s case for failing to comply with the requirements of the GTCA. The court explained that the statute clearly requires a “specific amount” of damages be plead, and here, the plaintiff failed to provide even a range of damages. Thus, the court rejected the plaintiff’s argument that she substantially complied with the GTCA and dismissed her case.

The court also rejected the plaintiff’s argument that the amendment was unfairly applied to her case because it became law after the accident resulting in her injuries. The court explained that the amendment did not deal with the substantive law governing her claim, but only with the filing requirement of the ante-litem notice. Because the amendment was made law prior to the filing of the plaintiff’s ante-litem notice, the court’s application of the amendment was not retroactive. What means is, the lawyers had a duty to pay attention to the changing law and to make sure that the ante litem notice they sent complied with the law. Theirs was sent after the law changed, so they lost. 

Have You Been Injured in a Georgia Car Accident?If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Georgia car accident involving a state or city employee, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a GTCA claim. Attorney Christopher M. Simon is a dedicated Georgia personal injury and wrongful death attorney with extensive experience handling a wide range of cases. Attorney Simon understands the difficulties injury victims face following a serious accident, and takes care to ensure that his clients obtain the compensation they deserve for the injuries they have sustained. To learn more, call Attorney Simon today at 404-259-7635 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.
Client Reviews
My wife and I were hit by a tractor trailer in 2014. After extensive research online, we were deeply impressed with the various reviews we read on Google and Avvo and chose Chris to represent us. We could not have a made a better decision. Chris and his firm treated us like we were their only clients, soothed our worries, and instantly gained our trust. Chris settled both of our cases for more than we expected. James
A co-worker of my wife recommended Chris to us. At the very beginning Chris showed that he cared and his knowledge is priceless. Going through this process can be aggravating but Chris did a great job guiding me through this and was always available to answer my questions. Chris fought to get what I deserved even though at times I wanted to give up. Tracy
I want to express my deepest sense of gratitude and appreciation to Attorney Chris Simon & Attorney Chris Carsten, for all the hard work that they put forth into my case (car accident filed after being hit by drunk driver). Their attention to detail and professionalism far surpasses their firm's reputation. Because of their diligence and dedication to their craft, they were able to bring my case to a successful close, one that I could live with. You will not find a better team for your case. Should I have a need for their services again in the future, or know of anyone looking for a top notch Auto Accident Law Firm, I would not hesitate to recommend them!!!! Elle
Wow...Chris is a very good attorney. Me and my son was in a very bad car accident an I was clueless on how to handle the situation. It's very hard to find an attorney who allows you to contact them personally instead of you contacting their asst. I was told that I didn't have a case because the hosiptal put a lien on my acct. Chris prove different and I was able to file my case with the insurance company. The process was very quickly and Im glad I selected the right attorney..Thanks Chris A Car Accident client
Chris is a great lawyer and the most people friendly attorney I have ever delt with. He handled my case with great attention to detail and did so in a very short period of time. He is very consice, efficient, patient and understanding. He has a strong passion for what he does and he does it well. I recommend Chris Simon as legal representation for anyone who has suffreed damages or a loss at the negligence of others. He really cares about you and your case. A Car Accident client