The Court of Appeals of Georgia issued an opinion arising from a personal injury claim filed by a plaintiff against the Georgia Department of Public Safety (the State). The plaintiff’s lawsuit alleges that he suffered injuries in a car accident when an officer employed by the State was chasing a fleeing felon. The State argued that the plaintiff did not serve it with proper ante litem notice; however, the trial court denied the State’s motion and then granted its application for interlocutory appeal.
The facts indicate that the incident occurred in October of 2014. Per OCGA section 50-21-26 (5), the plaintiff sent his intent to sue, otherwise known as ante litem notice, to the administrative services department in December 2014. The plaintiff did not include all of the relevant information, so he voluntarily dismissed the initial filing based on the deficiencies in his notice. Several years later, in March 2017, the plaintiff renewed his action by filing another ante litem notice. At this time, the State moved to dismiss the case, arguing that the notice was untimely. The plaintiff contended that, according to OCGA section 9-3-99, the notice was timely.
Generally, under the Georgia Tort Claims Act (GTCA), no one can bring an action against the State without first providing the appropriate agency written notice of claim within 12 months of the date of injury. However, OCGA section 9-3-99 provides that this statute of limitations may be tolled in cases where the case arose out of the commission of a crime. In these cases, the statute will be tolled from the date of the alleged crime until the prosecution of that crime has been terminated or otherwise become final, so long as it does not exceed six years.
On appeal, the State contended that the statute should not extend the one-year ante litem notice requirement in this case because it was not technically a statute of limitations. However, the appellate court agreed with the trial court, finding that the plain language of the statute applied to the statute of limitations in tort claims against non-criminal state actors. In analyzing the statute, the appellate court read the plain meaning of the statutory text, which states that all provisions related to tolling shall apply to actions brought under the GTCA. Thus, under the statute, and previous case law, the tolling period applies to both the statute of limitations and ante litem notice requirements. Thus, the plaintiff’s case was permitted to proceed towards trial or settlement negotiations.
Do You Have a Negligence or Wrongful Death Claim Against a Georgia Governmental Entity?
If you or someone you know has suffered injuries because of the negligence of a state actor or entity, you should contact the Georgia injury advocates at the Simon Law Firm. The respected attorneys at our office have a strong history of representing Georgia injury victims. Our practice areas include Georgia car accidents, wrongful death claims, and slip and fall cases among others. We consistently provide our clients with compassionate and personalized representation throughout the recovery process. Our attorneys have recovered significant amounts of compensation on behalf of our clients, including payments for medical bills, ongoing treatment, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other similar damages. Contact the Georgia injury attorneys at the Simon Law Firm at 404-259-7635 to schedule a free initial consultation with someone on our legal team.