Perfecting Claims Against Sheriffs And Their Deputies In Georgia

Under Georgia law, a sheriff and only a sheriff is vicariously liable for the negligent acts of his or her deputies. A county sheriff employs the deputy and the deputy reports to the sheriff. Thus, if a deputy sheriff is negligent, the sheriff is liable not the County. Notwithstanding this legal liability, however, there is a confusing element of Georgia law when it comes to perfecting claims against sheriffs and their deputies.
While the law is somewhat ambiguous in this regard and in many ways unsettled, anyone that has a claim against a sheriff or deputy sheriff should consider serving an ante-litem notice upon the county where the sheriff’s office exists. Under O.C.G.A. § 36-11-1, there is a provision which specifies that counties should be served with ante-litem notices for claims against counties. Again, a county cannot be vicariously liable for the acts of a deputy sheriff. Nonetheless, until the law is properly resolved, the more prudent approach for the time being would be to file an ante-litem notice with the county and the sheriff’s office if someone has a claim against a deputy sheriff based on allegations of negligence and damage caused thereby.
The county ante-litem notice provides that written notice of claim must be served on a county within twelve (12) months of the date of an occurrence. Thus, even though the statute of limitation for a personal injury claim in Georgia is two (2) years, in reality, if one has a claim against a county, one should assert it out of an abundance of caution within twelve (12) months even if the claim is against a sheriff or a deputy sheriff. Again, the law is somewhat unsettled in this regard although many defense attorneys would contend that it is absolutely settled and that such notice is required. A more prudent and cautious approach for practitioners is to serve an ante-litem notice on both the sheriff and the county where the sheriff is employed so as to preserve all legal rights. This needs to be done until the law is completely clarified and until there is no ambiguity one way or another on the question.

Published on:

Comments are closed.

Contact Information