Accidents happen—and when automobiles are involved, the people injured frequently sue the driver of the other vehicle and the driver’s insurance company. Those injured in Georgia can sue the other party in court for negligence by filing a personal injury case.
What if the accident involves a state employee? For instance, a person suffers an injury after an accident near Marietta on State Route 280 that involves a private citizen and a driver for the Georgia Department of Corrections. The private citizen suffers an injury and blames the other driver for negligence. Under the Georgia Tort Claims Act, this is not a simple situation.
Georgia Tort Claims Act Explained
The Georgia Tort Claims Act provides that the state of Georgia waives its sovereign immunity “for the torts of state officers and employees while acting within the scope of their official duties or employment.” However, there are exceptions when the state does not waive its immunity, wherein a person injured in an accident cannot recover for a personal injury claim against the state.
The state is not liable for personal injury claims if the injury results from the following circumstances:
- An act or omission by a state employee who was exercising due care to carry out a statute, regulation, or similar rule, even if the rule in question was not valid
- Carrying out or failing to carry out an optional duty
- Assessing or collecting any tax or detaining any goods or merchandise
- Legislative, judicial, quasi-judicial, or prosecutorial action
- Administrative action or inaction
- Failing to provide law enforcement, police, or fire protection
- Civil disturbance, riot, insurrection, or rebellion
- Assault or battery
- Libel or slander
- Interference with contractual rights
- Regulatory powers
- Financing regulatory activities such as examinations, inspections, and audits
- Training or duty activities of the Georgia National Guard, except auto accidents
- Failures or malfunctions of state computer software or programs
Even if no exception applies, a person injured in an accident can only sue the state if the alleged accident occurred while the state actor was acting within his or her official duties. In such an instance, however, the injured person may be able to bring a claim against the state officer or employee as a private individual.
In the above scenario, a person injured in the accident with the truck from the Department of Corrections would be able to sue the state for negligence, provided that the driver was acting in his or her official capacity. The state is responsible in that instance because the driver is acting on behalf of the state. However, in these situations, the recovery is often limited to the amount of insurance available for the specific incident.
As noted above, police inaction is not an actionable claim against the state in Georgia. Thus, if a riot breaks out and a private individual calls the police and the police do not show, the private individual cannot bring a personal injury action against the police even if he or she can demonstrate that an injury would not have occurred had there been a sufficient police presence.
If you are injured in an accident, you need a lawyer who is knowledgeable and experienced in Georgia personal injury law. Contact the law firm of Joel Williams, an experienced personal injury lawyer.