Georgia’s Strict Notice Requirements in Personal Injury Cases Naming Government Agencies as Defendants

When someone is injured in a Georgia car accident, they have the right to file a case against the driver they believe to have been at fault. Normally, the Georgia Rules of Civil Procedure govern these claims, providing standard timelines for the filing of a case. However, when a plaintiff’s case is proceeding against a government defendant, there are additional requirements that must be followed.

Under Georgia Code § 36-33-5, written notice must be provided to the agency that the plaintiff intends to name as a defendant. The statute requires that the notice include the time, place, and extent of the injury suffered by the plaintiff. In addition, the plaintiff must explain how they believe the government defendant was negligent. In 2014, a new sub-section was added, requiring plaintiffs to also “include the specific amount of monetary damages being sought from the municipal corporation.”

In a recent Georgia personal injury lawsuit, the court discussed the application of this new section to a plaintiff’s case that arose from an accident occurring before the section had been passed.

The Facts of the Case

In May 2014, the plaintiff was injured in a car accident that she claimed was due to the negligence of an on-duty police officer. In September of that year, the plaintiff provided the city with notice of her claim. The plaintiff included when and where the accident occurred, and her theory of how the police officer was negligent. 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.” However, no specific figure was provided.

The city argued that the plaintiff’s case should be dismissed because it failed to comply with the newly amended statute requiring plaintiffs to include the specific amount of damages they are requesting. That statute became effective July 1, 2014 – two months after the accident giving rise to the plaintiff’s case, and two months before the plaintiff filed notice to the city of her claim.

The plaintiff argued that, while the notice she provided was not in exact compliance, it “substantially complied” and that she should be given the opportunity to proceed with her case. Alternatively, the plaintiff claimed that it was an improper retroactive application of the law to require her case comply with the statute that was passed after the accident giving rise to the claim had occurred.

The court rejected both of the plaintiff’s arguments and dismissed her case. The court explained that the notice provided by the plaintiff did not substantially comply with the new requirement. The court explained that the statute required a specific amount be given because it could be used as a starting point for negotiations between the parties. Thus, the court held that by failing to provide any figure at all, the plaintiff did not substantially comply.

Next, the court held that it was not an improper retroactive application of law to apply the new requirement to the plaintiff’s case. The court explained that the requirement did not deal with her underlying case, but dealt with the filing of pre-suit notice, which the plaintiff filed after the statute had been passed.

Have You Been Injured Due to a Government Employee’s Negligence?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Georgia car accident that you believe was caused in part by the negligence of a government employee, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. However, as the above case illustrates, there will likely be strict procedural requirements that must be followed. The dedicated Georgia personal injury lawyers at McAleer Law have extensive experience handling all types of Georgia personal injury claims, including those naming government employees and entities as defendants. To learn more, call 404-622-5337 to schedule a free consultation today.

See More Posts:

Georgia Court Discusses Plaintiff’s Potential Failure to Comply with Terms of Insurance Contract, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, June 11, 2018.

Georgia Court Discusses Coverage Exceptions to Insurance Policies in Recent Car Accident Case, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, March 27, 2018.