Can I Sue the City of Atlanta?
Injured in a public bus crash? Slip and fall on a badly cracked sidewalk downtown? City employee assault you? The City of Atlanta may be liable for your injuries after accidents involving city-owned properties or city workers. It is possible for a city to become the defendant in personal injury claims in Georgia. Despite statewide sovereign immunity laws meant to bar the government from liability, there are exceptions that allow lawsuits for certain types of injuries and acts of negligence so speak to a qualified Atlanta personal injury attorney for legal assistance if you are considering filing a claim against the city.
The Georgia Tort Claims Act
The Georgia Tort Claims Act is the piece of legislation that opens the state up to potential liability for accidents and injuries. Under the Act, Georgia cities automatically waive immunity to lawsuits, or “torts of state officers and employees.” This means that, with some exceptions, injured parties can sue the City of Atlanta for wrongdoing or acts of negligence that city employees commit during official duties. This may include city-employed bus drivers, park workers, maintenance crews, police officers, and other government employees. The Tort Claims Act does not, however, waive immunity for Georgia counties.
There has never been a statute in Georgia’s history allowing a party to hold a county liable for negligence and injuries. In some circumstances, it is the county that was responsible for the injuries. For example, say the county failed to respond to a 911 call, resulting in failure to offer emergency assistance to an accident victim. If the individual later dies, surviving family members would be reasonable in wanting to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against Fulton County. Unless the county agrees to waive its sovereign immunity (an unlikely event), the courts would dismiss the case, regardless of the facts.
Deciding whether you have a case against Atlanta or Fulton County could require an attorney’s investigation of your case. It will depend on which entity was responsible for causing or contributing to your harm. All State of Georgia Government Entities, including all institutions, agencies, authorities, boards, and departments, waive their immunity under the Georgia Tort Claim Act. In most cases, one of these entities will be responsible for injuries that occur in the City of Atlanta.
How to Bring a Claim Against the City of Atlanta
If you believe you have a claim against Atlanta, don’t delay in speaking to a lawyer. Cases against government agencies are notoriously complex and difficult to win. There are strict filing deadlines and many other rules you must obey before the courts will even consider hearing your case. Retaining an attorney can significantly boost your chances of securing a settlement or judgment award after any type of accident. You will first learn whether or not you have grounds to file. You must be the victim of wrongdoing such as state/city employee negligence, legislative actions, intentional torts, or defamation.
The next step is filing your claim. You have six months from the date of your accident to file a claim against the City of Atlanta. You must file through the city’s website, using a special form. The mayor will have the opportunity to approve the claim and offer a settlement. If the city refuses to pay, you will have the option to file a civil lawsuit in court. These lawsuits are tricky and require specialized legal expertise. Always enlist the help of an experienced lawyer to go up against the City of Atlanta.