The Importance of Following Procedure When Naming a Government Defendant in a Georgia Personal Injury Claim

The procedural rules for filing a Georgia negligence lawsuit can be complex, and are always important for a plaintiff to follow. However, strict compliance with procedural requirements is especially important when a plaintiff seeks damages from a government entity. A recent decision by the Georgia Court of Appeals affirming the dismissal of a personal injury claim filed against the state of Georgia should serve as a reminder of this importance.

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was a woman who alleged that she was injured as a result of an escalator malfunction while attending an Atlanta Falcons game at the Georgia Dome in the fall of 2015. The woman claimed the operators of the Georgia Dome were negligent by failing to maintain and inspect the escalator, and she was seriously injured by the malfunction. The plaintiff sued the Georgia World Congress Center Authority, which is the state government entity that operates the Georgia Dome, requesting over $6 million in damages as compensation for her injuries and loss.

Before a trial was held over the plaintiff’s claim, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, alleging that the plaintiff’s complaint did not comply with the Georgia Tort Claims Act (GTCA), which is the state law outlining the standards for procedural requirements for a negligence claim against a government entity in the state of Georgia. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion and dismissed the plaintiff’s lawsuit, ruling that the plaintiff’s complaint did not give adequate notice to the defendant of the nature of the claim, as required under the GTCA. The plaintiff appealed the ruling to the Georgia Court of Appeals.

The Georgia Court of Appeals upheld the lower ruling dismissing the plaintiff’s case. Specifically, the court found that a complaint must strictly comply with the notice requirements of the GTCA, which states that a complaint needs to specifically detail the type of injury suffered. Because the plaintiff’s claim only set out that she was injured and demanded a monetary amount, the court held that the notice requirements were not adequately met. Additionally, because the GTCA also sets a strict statute of limitations for the time to file a claim, the plaintiff may not refile her case to receive compensation for the injuries she suffered.

Filing a Georgia negligence claim against a state or government entity can feel like an uphill battle for an injured party, as the Georgia Tort Claims Act creates requirements that do not exist for plaintiff’s who seek damages from private parties. Making matters more difficult, Georgia courts have ruled that these requirements must be strictly followed.

Have You Been Injured in a Georgia Accident?

If you or a loved one has been injured because of the negligence of a public or private party, the competent and professional personal injury lawyers at McAleer Law will ensure that your case is handled properly from the start. Our experienced Georgia slip and fall accident attorneys are familiar with the Georgia Tort Claims Act, and understand how to effectively sue government entities as well as private businesses and homeowners. For a no-obligation consultation with one of our attorneys, contact us today at 404-622-5337 and take the first step towards receiving compensation for your loss.