Claims Against the Government — Don’t Make These Fatal Mistakes

claims against government

Even the seemingly most straight-forward personal injury claims can be highly complicated. This is especially true when plaintiffs make claims against government entities. If you have been injured due to the negligent conduct of a government agency or government worker, you should know that it may be possible to bring a claim against the government for personal injury damages. However, these claims are difficult to make and should only be made with the assistance of an experienced Georgia personal injury attorney. Two big pitfalls that plaintiffs making claims against the government must be wary of are the doctrine of sovereign immunity and statutory ante litem notice requirements. 

The Sovereign Immunity Doctrine 

The first thing plaintiffs making claims against the government should understand is the doctrine of sovereign immunity. Hundreds of years ago when our system of law was first developing in England, the English kings decided that it would be a good idea if nobody could ever sue them because “the king can do no wrong.” And so the doctrine of sovereign immunity was born, which held that the monarchy was immune from lawsuits. Although the United States is far removed from the days of monarchy, our legal system has retained the doctrine of sovereign immunity, which now holds that the federal and state governments are immune from lawsuits. Despite the outdated rationale for the doctrine, it nonetheless remains firmly entrenched in Georgia law. 

Therefore, to bring a claim against state or local governments, sovereign immunity must be overcome. For personal injury lawsuits, this can be accomplished by making claims through the Georgia Tort Claims Act (O.C.G.A. § 50-21-23). Under this law, the state of Georgia waived immunity for personal injury lawsuits. The law states: 

The state waives its sovereign immunity for the torts of state officers and employees while acting within the scope of their official duties or employment and shall be liable for such torts in the same manner as a private individual or entity would be liable under like circumstances. 

It is important for plaintiffs to understand that municipalities and counties in Georgia are also protected by sovereign immunity. Other laws have waived sovereign immunity for many claims against municipalities and counties. Generally, it is easier to make claims against municipalities than it is to make claims against counties. If you have been injured by a local government or government worker, it is important to consult with a Georgia attorney to understand whether or not sovereign immunity bars your claim. 

Procedural Rules of the Georgia Tort Claims Act 

Plaintiffs making claims against the government must also comply with special procedural rules that govern these types of claims. The biggest procedural misstep that Georgia plaintiffs make when making claims against the government is failing to comply with the ante litem notice requirement of O.C.G.A. § 50-21-26. Under this provision of the Georgia Tort Claims Act, a written notice of claim must be mailed by certified mail to Georgia’s Risk Management Division of the Department of Administrative Services and a copy of this notice must be mailed to the state agency that is being threatened with a lawsuit within 12 months of the date that the cause of action accrued. This notice must contain the following information: 

(A) The name of the state government entity, the acts or omissions of which are asserted as the basis of the claim; 

(B) The time of the transaction or occurrence out of which the loss arose; 

(C) The place of the transaction or occurrence; 

(D) The nature of the loss suffered; 

(E) The amount of the loss claimed; and 

(F) The acts or omissions which caused the loss. 

This notice requirement has been strictly construed by Georgia courts, and a personal injury lawsuit cannot be made under the Georgia Tort Claims Act until this notice has been provided. Additionally, after this notice has been delivered, a lawsuit cannot be filed until the claim has either been denied or 90 days has passed. It is also important to note that claims against municipalities and counties have their own ante litem notice requirement laws that must be complied with. 

If You’ve Been Injured in an Accident, Call Joel Williams Law, LLC, to Discuss Your Case Today 

The experienced personal injury attorneys at Joel Williams Law, LLC, are dedicated to maximizing compensation in every case they take. They understand Georgia substantive and procedural law and know how to effectively make claims against government entities when those entities cause harm. If you would like to discuss your case, contact Joel Williams Law, LLC, to schedule a free case evaluation today by calling (404) 389-1035. 

How a Bad Lawyer Can Kill Your Case

bad lawyer kill case

Lawyers have an enormous responsibility to deliver honest and competent service to clients. Even the best lawyers do not win every single case they take, but lawyers have an obligation to provide quality work and to decline representation if they lack the time, competence, or motivation to deliver adequate service. When a lawyer makes inexcusable mistakes that cause a client to lose their case, the (former) client can bring a legal malpractice lawsuit against the offending attorney to recover damages. These claims are difficult to prove because a plaintiff must prove that they would have won their case but-for the attorney’s mistake. Unfortunately, clients who hire bad lawyers are often simply out of luck after they lose their case. Below are some of the ways that a bad attorney can kill your case. 

Missing Deadlines 

According to a study conducted by the American Bar Association, situations where an attorney failed to meet a deadline for a client account for more than 17% of all legal malpractice claims in the United States. This makes missing deadlines far and away the number one cause of legal malpractice. Amazingly, in 6.6% of the legal malpractice cases included in the study, the lawyer allegedly did not even knowabout the deadline. Missing deadlines is particularly egregious because there is usually no way to undo the damage done. When it happens, the client simply misses out on their chance to present to the court whatever it was that was supposed to be filed. 

Negotiating Poorly 

A personal injury lawyer should be able to properly value a case and ensure that a client does not accept an unreasonable offer. You should expect your personal injury attorney to be able to persuasively argue your case to a court. They ought to be able to do the same thing when they discuss your case with the opposing party. A failure to effectively negotiate can result in a pitiful settlement agreement. 

Failing to File the Right Motions or Evidence 

In every case, there are key documents and key evidence that must be filed by a plaintiff at different stages of litigation. While all lawyers make strategic decisions about exactly what to file and when to file it, a bad lawyer will fail to present things to the court that would have helped win the case. That isn’t something any personal injury victim wants to happen. 

Failing to Communicate 

All lawyers in Georgia have an obligation to provide prompt and reasonable communication with clients. This means that lawyers must apprise clients of their legal options and make sure clients know about settlement offers. A failure to communicate with a client can result in mistrust, a deterioration of the attorney-client relationship, and can ultimately be a major detriment. 

Don’t Risk Blowing Your Case, Call Joel Williams Law, LLC 

The experienced personal injury attorneys at Joel Williams Law, LLC, work hard to deliver the best possible service to each of their clients, with the goal of maximizing compensation in every case. If you would like to schedule a free consultation, contact Joel Williams Law, LLC, by calling (404) 389-1035 today.

Pedestrian Killed in Crash Involving Brooks County Patrol Car

police car accident pedestrian

On the morning of December 12, 2017, 60-year old Hubert Herring was killed when he was struck by a Brooks County Sheriff’s Office patrol car in Boston, Georgia. It was reported that Herring was attempting to cross the eastbound lane of traffic when he walked in front of the patrol car. Eyewitnesses to the accident reported that the driver of the car had almost no time to react before the collision occurred.

Pedestrian Accidents

Pedestrian accidents happen frequently in the United States, including in Georgia. These types of accidents occur in large cities, small towns, and rural areas alike. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were roughly 70,000 pedestrians injured and 5,376 killed in traffic accidents in the United States in 2015. This means that, on average, a pedestrian is killed every two hours and injured every seven minutes in traffic crashes in the United States in 2015.

Statistics gathered by the NHTSA show that approximately 74% of pedestrian accidents occur at night, nearly 15% of pedestrian accidents involve children, and that alcohol is a factor in nearly half of all pedestrian fatalities. When pedestrians are struck by negligent drivers, they are entitled to compensation for whatever harm they have suffered. In fatal accident cases, a victim’s family can bring a wrongful death action.

However, compensation from the driver involved is not guaranteed merely because an accident occurred. Pedestrians, just like auto drivers, have a duty to adhere to certain rules of the road. For a pedestrian to win a personal injury claim against a driver, they must prove not only that the driver was negligent, but also the driver’s negligence as the cause of the accident.

The Georgia “Rules of the Road” Governing Pedestrian Accidents

Auto drivers and pedestrians each have a duty to act with reasonable care when using roadways. When Driver or pedestrians violate rules of the road, they are presumed negligent. This means that if an accident occurs, they will be presumed to be negligent and may owe the other party compensation.

Common causes of pedestrian accidents that are the result of driver negligence are speeding, distracted driving, failing to yield the right of way to a pedestrian in a crosswalk, running a stop light or stop sign, failing to use a turn signal at a right-hand turn, and of course DWI/DUI. Even when drivers are otherwise adhering to these rules of the road, they also have a duty to exercise due care to avoid colliding with a pedestrian in all circumstances.

Although the overall focus of Georgia traffic laws, which are found in Title 40 of the Official Code of Georgia, is on regulating auto drivers, Georgia law has also recognized that there is also a strong public safety interest in regulating pedestrian conduct. Georgia law contains specific rules of the road that apply to pedestrians on all Georgia roadways. Title 40 Chapter 6 Sections 90-99 outline the rights and duties of pedestrians.

Major rules of the road that all Georgia pedestrians should be aware of are:

• Just like drivers must obey traffic lights and traffic regulations, pedestrians also must obey traffic control devices and traffic regulations. § 40-6-90.
• Pedestrians have the right of way only when walking across a crosswalk. When pedestrians cross a roadway at a place other than a crosswalk, vehicles have the right of way. § 40-6-92.
• Georgia law also holds that, “no pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impractical for the driver to yield.” § 40-6-91.
• A pedestrian may not walk upon a roadway when they are intoxicated “to a degree which renders him a hazard.” § 40-6-95.
• Pedestrians should generally avoid walking upon a roadway when a sidewalk is provided. § 40-6-96.

For More Information, Contact Joel Williams Law, LLC

Pedestrian accidents can raise complex legal questions and the issue of liability is often hotly contested. If you or a loved one has been injured in a pedestrian accident, the experienced personal injury attorneys at Joel Williams Law, LLC, can help you understand your legal rights and options. Joel Williams Law, LLC, is dedicated to helping victims get the compensation they deserve. Call (404) 389-1035 today to schedule a free consultation.