Filing Personal Injury Claims against Georgia Government Entities (Part A)

Normally, if you wish to seek compensation for damage sustained in an accident, you can simply file a Georgia personal injury claim. But if the defendant works for a government agency, the process is not as straightforward. When suing a government entity in Georgia, there are additional factors and procedures that must be considered.

Sovereign Immunity

One of the biggest obstacles encountered when suing a government entity in Georgia is a concept known as sovereign immunity. In Georgia, sovereign immunity is defined as the protection under the law that prohibits an agent or agency of the government from being sued without their consent. It sounds ridiculous, but the bottom line is that you cannot sue the government unless it allows you to!

The idea behind sovereign immunity is to protect lawmakers, state agencies, and law enforcement personnel from being sued every time they do something that a citizen doesn't like. To an extent, sovereign immunity makes sense. After all, if the government could be sued simply for carrying out its day-to-day duties, it could potentially spend all of its time defending against lawsuits instead of fulfilling the mandate of the people it is intended to serve.

Generally speaking, suing a government entity in Georgia is not permitted if the entity or one of its agents has acted within their discretionary authority. In other words, the government has a certain amount of flexibility in how it operates. As a rule, a Georgia personal injury claim can proceed only if the alleged act occurred outside the scope of the government's authority.

Waivers of Sovereign Immunity

Thankfully, the state does not enjoy "blanket" sovereign immunity from every Georgia personal injury claim that could possibly be filed. Georgia has recognized that in certain situations, plaintiffs should be entitled to relief or damages. This concept is known as a waiver of sovereign immunity.

One common example where a waiver of sovereign immunity applies is when citizens' property is damaged during a police chase. The state doesn't endorse the idea that police have the right to wreak havoc on their surroundings just to catch a criminal. That said, it is often time consuming and difficult to prove negligence during a police chase when suing a government entity in Georgia.

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