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A Brief History of Sovereign Immunity


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8/25/2010
Jason Schultz
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It is often difficult to sue a government entity in Georgia. That's because so many government agencies are protected from lawsuits under the auspices of sovereign immunity. But where did the idea of sovereign immunity come from?

Origins in Ancient England

As the name implies, sovereign immunity originated in ancient England, where it was believed that the ruling monarchy could do no wrong. That concept was brought to America by the British. But a court case involving Georgia sought to change that.

Chisholm v. Georgia and the 11th Amendment

In 1793, the fledgling U.S. Supreme Court allowed a North Carolina resident to sue the state of Georgia over property seized by the Peach State during the American Revolution. As part of a backlash against Chisholm v. Georgia, the U.S. states ratified the 11th Amendment to the Constitution two years later. This amendment gives sovereign immunity to states against lawsuits by citizens of other states and nations.

Tort Claims Legislation

In the 19th century, the federal government began chipping away at its sovereign immunity in certain instances. But it wasn't until 1946 that Congress passed the Tort Claims Act, which allowed agents of the federal government to be sued for tortuous acts in federal court. These actions include personal injury claims, acts of negligence, and other complaints that are commonly decided in civil courts today.

Despite the federal government's moves, states still generally operated under sovereign immunity until recently. In Georgia, the Tort Claims Act of 1992 eliminated sovereign immunity for its agencies except under certain circumstances. Nevertheless, it is still tricky and time consuming to file a personal injury claim against a state entity today.

If you are considering such a lawsuit, it is essential that you contact a personal injury lawyer who is competent in dealing with issues surrounding sovereign immunity. For more information on sovereign immunity and its effect on Georgia personal injury claims, read our article on filing personal injury claims against Georgia government entities

Contacting a Peachtree City Injury Attorney

As the victim of a Georgia accident, you have rights that the insurance companies cannot ignore. While they have a team of lawyers working on their side, shouldn't you have experienced legal representation fighting for your best interests? Before accepting any settlement offer, contact the Law Offices of Jason Schultz to schedule a no cost consultation of your case - 404-474-0804.



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