Pre-Suit Notification for Claims Against the State of Georgia
In order to pursue a claim in Georgia for personal injuries caused by a state, county, or municipality employee's negligence, notice must be given in writing, and sent via certified mail to the appropriate governmental entity. This is commonly referred to as an "ante litem notice". Proper service of the ante litem notice is a mandatory requirement prior to filing suit in a police chase case, or any other emergency pursuit case, in the State of Georgia. In addition to the requirements described above, the Georgia Court of Appeals has issued several opinions in the past few years finding that a claimant's ante litem notice did not meet the statutory requirements for a variety of reasons. In most of these cases, the Court of Appeals dismissed the claimant's lawsuit for failure to comply with the statute. In summary, both the contents of the ante litem notice and proper service of the ante litem notice are subject to stringent requirements under the law; if they are not followed exactly, it is likely a claimant's lawsuit will be subject to dismissal. For these reasons, it is important that a potential claimant hire a lawyer who is very familiar with both the statutory requirements and the appellate case law surrounding this issue. If you would like to arrange for a free consultation with one of the lawyers at Finch McCranie, please call us at (404) 658-9070.
This is set forth in O.C.G.A. § 50-21-26(a)(2). Additionally, a copy shall be delivered personally to or mailed by First Class Mail to the State government entity involved. Content of the notice is governed by O.C.G.A. § 50-21-26(a)(5).
As a general proposition, such an Ante-Litem Notice must state the extent of the claimant’s knowledge of the circumstances including the name of the government entity, the act or omission involved, the time and place of the alleged negligent act, the nature of the loss suffered, the amount of the loss claimed and the acts or omissions which caused the loss.As can be seen, Ante-Litem Notices against the State are governed by statute and if these statutes are not closely observed, a claim against a State government agency or employee can be lost altogether. While such claims must be given with in twelve (12) months from the date of the date the loss was discovered or should have been discovered, even if an attempt is made to file a pre-suit notice of loss within twelve (12) months, if the form is not sent in the correct way to the correct individuals, the claim can be time barred.
Accordingly, once again, we urge all claimants who may have potential claims against a State government agency or employee to confer with counsel just as soon as possible so as to protect their interests.