Court Considers Whether a Pending Criminal Case Tolls the Ante-Litem Notice Requirement

In a recent Georgia personal injury case before the state’s appeals court, the plaintiff was injured in a motor vehicle accident as a man was fleeing from the police. The plaintiff subsequently filed a claim against the Georgia Department of Public Safety (the State), and the State moved to dismiss the complaint because it claimed the plaintiff failed to serve the State with a proper ante litem notice within one year of the crash.

The plaintiff claimed that the statute of limitations should have been tolled while the criminal case against the man who was fleeing from the police was pending. The State argued that the statute of limitations should not be tolled in this case, because the mandate under OCGA § 50-21-26 (a) is a notice requirement rather than a statute of limitations.

The Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations refers to the time during which a legal action must be filed. The applicable statute of limitations varies depending on the type of the claim and where it is filed. If a case is filed after the applicable statute of limitations has expired, the case will likely be dismissed, and a plaintiff will be precluded from recovering for their injuries.

Ante Litem Notice

Under the Georgia Tort Claims Act (“GTCA”), a person with a personal injury claim against the State must first give notice of the claim within 12 months “of the date the loss was discovered or should have been discovered.” However, under OCGA § 9-3- 99, the statute of limitations for a Georgia tort claim “that may be brought by the alleged victim of an alleged crime which arises out of the facts and circumstances relating to the commission of such alleged crime” is tolled from the “from the date of the commission of the alleged crime or the act giving rise to such action in tort until the prosecution of such crime or act has become final or otherwise terminated,” as long as that time does not exceed six years.

The Court’s Decision

The court considered OCGA § 9-3- 99 as well as previous decisions to determine whether the case tolled the statute of limitations.  As the Georgia Tort Claims Act’s ante litem notice, O.C.G.A. § 50-21-26, is not a statute of limitation, the Code’s statutory tolling provisions, such as O.C.G.A. § 9-3-99, do not apply to this 12-month ante litem notice period.  As a result, the plaintiff’s case was dismissed for failure to timely file the ante litem notice.

Dep’t of Pub. Safety v. Ragsdale, 308 Ga. 210, 210, 839 S.E.2d 541, 542 (2020)

Contact an Experienced Atlanta Injury Attorney

If you have been injured due to another’s negligence, consult with an attorney as soon as possible. At the McAleer Law Firm, we handle claims arising out of serious Georgia car accidents and other accidents resulting in catastrophic injuries. Our Georgia attorneys are ready to fight for the rights of accident victims in the Atlanta metro area, as well as throughout the state. We can help you evaluate your claim and explore your full range of options. Call us at 404-622-5337, or contact us through our online form.

See More Posts:

Evidence of an Accident Victim’s Failure to Wear a Seatbelt Is Prohibited in Georgia Personal Injury Trials, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, October 18, 2018.

Georgia Court Rejects Defendant’s Spoliation Claim Against Personal Injury Plaintiff, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, November 14, 2018.