What if the Government Caused Your Injury?
There are many ways in which state, local or even the federal government can cause injury to members of the public by way of their agents and employees. For example, what if you are involved in a car accident with a government vehicle or injured in an accident on a poorly designed or maintained highway?
The government is not immune to liability for such acts of negligence. However, special rules do apply when suing the government. Failing to abide by them can mean forfeiting your rights regardless of the severity of your injuries or the factual quality of your case.
Many particularly harsh rules of common law have long since been abolished in virtually every U.S. jurisdiction. The old rule that the state was immune from suit — called sovereign immunity — is no exception. In Georgia, injured individuals are generally permitted to assert tort claims against state or local governments in Georgia state courts, subject to some limitations:
- The state cannot be liable for injuries resulting from the performance of discretionary functions.
- The state cannot be liable for failing to identify a dangerous condition in a privately owned building during an inspection.
- The state cannot be liable for injuries caused by defective design of public roads so long as the design was in substantial accord with the generally accepted engineering and design standards in place at the time of construction.
- Claimants must provide written notice of the claim to the appropriate government entity within 12 months of the injury.
- The state’s liability per person is limited to $1 million regardless of the number of individual departments involved.
- No punitive damages are permitted against the state.
Despite all these limitations, a state or local agency is still a good defendant to have in a lawsuit involving a serious injury so long as the facts support it. Experienced Georgia injury lawyers know the intricacies of initiating legal action against the state and can help ensure that you do not waive any of your legal rights.