If a government worker hits you with a car in Georgia, you may have grounds to sue the government entity that employs them. This type of legal action is a suit against the government, called a “tort claim” under Georgia law. Generally, if a government worker causes an accident through their negligence or by behaving recklessly, the injured party may be able to pursue damages from the state or other government agency that employs them. The first step is to hire an experienced attorney to help you understand your rights as a victim of negligence.
City Vehicles And Public Property
It is essential to determine if the city vehicle or driver was at fault for your accident and how much responsibility they had in causing it. If the driver of the vehicle was on the job, meaning they were acting in their official capacity as a city employee, then there may be grounds for filing a claim against the city.
Suppose it is determined that a dangerous condition existed on public roads due to lack of maintenance or defective design. In that case, it may also be possible to file a lawsuit against the city.
Government Entity Liability
When dealing with tort claims against the government due to car accidents caused by their employees, it is essential to remember that in most cases, both governmental and non-governmental entities could be held liable for any resulting damages. For instance, when an accident involving an employee of the state takes place on Georgia public highways, the State Department of Transportation and its employees might be held accountable for any injuries sustained. Additionally, if any municipal or county vehicles were involved in such an incident, their respective government entities would also be liable for any resulting harm.
Sovereign Immunity And Negligence
In Georgia, city workers are granted sovereign immunity if they cause an automobile accident. Sovereign immunity generally means that the government or its workers can’t be sued. In most cases, any damages or liabilities stemming from such an incident cannot be pursued against a municipality or its employees. While this protection is provided by law to shield cities and their staff from being unduly punished for unavoidable errors made while on the job, it does not absolve these individuals of all responsibility for their actions. Depending on the situation, it may still be possible to seek compensation for an auto accident caused by a city worker if there exists proof of negligence or recklessness.
For example, suppose an employee was driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the collision. In that case, they might not qualify for immunity due to having disregarded standard safety practices. In addition, other factors such as excessively high speed, distracted driving (e.g., texting while behind the wheel), or failing to obey traffic laws can also lead to a court deciding that sovereign immunity should not apply in such cases.
Even if a city worker is legally granted immunity after causing an automobile accident, they may still face administrative penalties imposed by their employer to deter similar behavior in the future.
Legal Requirements To File A Lawsuit
To successfully file a lawsuit against either a state or local government due to an accident caused by one of their employees, one must first understand what legal requirements must be met before filing such a claim. In general, these include establishing fault for causing the accident (negligence), proving that this fault resulted in injury or economic losses suffered by the plaintiff (causation), and finally showing that these injuries have not already been compensated for elsewhere (no double recovery).
You will need to demonstrate that you suffered losses due to the negligence of an agent of the city and that your damages exceed any contributory negligence on your part. Having evidence, such as accident reports from law enforcement officials and medical bills documenting your injuries, is critical. Your attorney will also need to prove that those involved in causing your accident were negligent by failing to use reasonable care or breaching their duty of care owed to you.
Governments often have legal teams and insurance providers designed explicitly for handling lawsuits against them for accidents involving their vehicles and employees. These parties could make any settlement negotiations more difficult, but with an experienced lawyer at your side, navigating this complex process can give you the best chance at receiving justice for what happened to you.
The state of Georgia does cap personal injury settlement awards. Generally, the amount of recovery an individual may receive in a lawsuit for damages resulting from personal injuries is limited by law to $350,000 in non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of companionship.
Statute Of Limitations
In the state of Georgia, the applicable statute of limitations for any auto accident involving a vehicle owned or operated by a governmental entity is two years. This means that any person involved in an automobile accident with a government-owned or operated vehicle must file a claim within two years from the date of the accident to have their case considered by the court.
The two-year statute of limitation applies to all claims resulting from the accident, including personal injury, property damage, and wrongful death. This can be a critical period for those who have suffered a serious injury due to an auto accident with a government vehicle; if they fail to file their claim within two years, their ability to seek damages may be substantially limited or altogether barred. Even though some exceptions to this rule exist in certain circumstances where extenuating factors may apply, individuals should file all claims as soon as possible after an auto accident so that there are no issues regarding the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations.
Georgia law also requires that all civil actions arising out of personal injury or wrongful death resulting from an automobile accident must be brought in the county where such action arises. This means that regardless of what type of car was involved in the crash (e.g., private citizen or government vehicle), claimants must file suit in either the county court where the crash occurred or where the defendants reside for their case to proceed.
Whether you are suing a private citizen or governmental entity for damages resulting from an auto accident involving their vehicle, you must serve the summons on the defendants within 90 days after filing suit to preserve your legal rights and access court remedies.
Georgia Tort Claims Lawyer
These tort claims can often become quite complex and involve many nuanced legal issues which require specialized knowledge beyond what most people possess. Because of this, it is recommended that you contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible after being injured. The attorney can assess your case thoroughly and guide you through each step of the process correctly. An experienced attorney will also help ensure that your rights are fully protected throughout your case and advise you on how best to approach settlement negotiations with the responsible governmental agencies should your case make it to this stage.
If you or a loved one has been injured, or you have lost a loved one in a wrongful death accident, get in touch with Dozier Law. Contact us online or by telephone at 844-436-9437 to speak with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney.