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Traditionally, the federal and state governments were immune from lawsuits brought by citizens unless the government specifically consented to being named as a defendant. The idea was, we don’t want the government paralyzed with lawsuits that will distract it from governing. Over time, states passed legislation codifying the areas where immunity would be waived to eliminate unfair results.
In Georgia, the Georgia Tort Claims Act (GTCA) provides citizens with notice as to the areas where immunity will be waived and what requirements must be followed in order to bring a lawsuit against a government defendant. It is important that prospective Georgia personal injury plaintiffs understand the nature of their claims, and whether they fit within the GTCA’s waiver of immunity. One of the many requirements of the GTCA is an ante litem notice, or a pre-suit notice. Specifically, Georgia Code section 50-21-26 states that “notice of a claim shall be given in writing within 12 months of the date the loss was discovered or should have been discovered.”
This notice must be delivered personally or sent by certified mail to the Risk Management Division of the Department of Administrative Services. A copy must also be provided to the specific agency being named in the lawsuit. If the requirements of section 50-21-26 are not followed precisely, then a Georgia court will likely dismiss a plaintiff’s case. That is exactly what happened in a recent Georgia car accident case. This is a good illustration of why you really need a lawyer anytime you are dealing with the government. The slightest mistake, even if it does not matter because they knew about it anyway, can kill these cases.
The plaintiff was injured in a single-vehicle accident that he claimed was due to an unsafe road that allowed for water to accumulate, causing his vehicle to hydroplane. The plaintiff filed an ante litem notice. However, the notice was delivered to the Georgia Department of Transportation rather than the Risk Management Division of the Department of Administrative Services. The plaintiff presented evidence suggesting that the notice was eventually forwarded to and received by the Risk Management Division. Nevertheless, the court dismissed his cases.
The court explained that the exacting requirements of the GTCA must be followed precisely. Otherwise, the court does not have jurisdiction to hear the case and it must be dismissed. Here, because the plaintiff failed to comply with the requirements of the GTCA, either by failing to notify the proper government entity or by failing to comply with the method-of-service requirement, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s case.
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Georgia accident that you believe was due to the negligence of a government employee or entity, you may be entitled to monetary compensation.
Christopher M. Simon is a dedicated Atlanta car crash injury attorney who is well-versed in the GTCA. Attorney Simon knows what it takes to succeed on behalf of his clients, and works tirelessly to help them obtain the compensation they deserve. To learn more, call (404) 259-7635 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case today. Calling is free, and we will not bill you for our services unless we are able to help you obtain the compensation you deserve.