Suing the Federal Government, the State of Georgia, or a Georgia county or city can be a confusing, lengthy, time-consuming process. It is therefore important to hire an attorney who knows the rules and process.
In cases where the federal government causes personal injury to an individual, the government is generally immune from lawsuits because of the doctrine of sovereign immunity. However, the injured individual may be able to bring a claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act, or “FTCA.” In other words, an private individual can not sue the federal government unless the FTCA allows it. The FTCA allows certain kinds of lawsuits against federal employees who are acting within the scope of their employment. For example, if an individual has a potential personal injury claim against the United Post Office after slipping and falling, that individual will have to file suit under the FTCA.
Similarly, the State of Georgia and its counties are subject to being sued under the Georgia Tort Claims Act, or “GTCA.” It applies when officers and employees of the state and state agencies act negligently, but does not apply to officers and agents of counties, municipalities, hospital authorities, and school boards. It can be complicated as it requires a notice of claim to be made to the government, provides for a limit on liability. As an example, an injured individual may sue under the GTCA if she suffers a personal injury as a result of an automobile accident caused by a state government official while driving as part of his job.
When suing a Georgia City, there are still other rules to consider. An important point to consider when suing a city in Georgia is that the injured individual has to prove more than ordinary negligence. For example, in one case, an individual was injured in a car accident because the city failed to trim a dogwood tree that was blocking a stop sign. The court dismissed the suit, holding that it could not impose standard of ordinary care rather than proper standard requiring showing that maintenance of the defect exceeded mere negligence.
Accident Compensation Lawyers
If you or a loved one are injured in an accident, many types of compensation may be available regardless of whether the injury is caused by a car wreck, premises liability incident (such as a “slip and fall”), or medical malpractice. This article will generally discuss a few of the major types of compensation that an accident victim may legally recover.
Obviously, because an injured person will need medical care, medical expenses are the most commonly-claimed form of compensation. A claimant may recover the costs of treatment from a hospital, doctor, ambulance, chiropractor, physical therapist, pharmacy or other similar medical provider. These costs are usually relatively simple to determine because the patient will receive a bill.
There are two important things to remember about compensation for medical costs. First, a claimant may recover not just the cost of medical care already received, but also the cost of future medical care, as long as the claimant can prove it is more likely than not that they will receive that treatment in the future. For example, if a doctor agrees that a claimant will probably need a future surgery for accident-related injuries, the claimant has a good argument that the cost of the surgery should be recovered now. Second, a claimant may recover the amount of his or her medical bills even if they were paid by health insurance or some other source. This rule is based on the idea that a defendant who injures someone else should not be allowed to “take credit” for payments made by someone else.
Lost wages are also recoverable. If an accident has left someone unable to work, he or she can seek compensation for the income they lost as a result. Another type of compensation similar to this is that for “loss of future earnings“ or “diminished earning capacity.” This refers to situations where a claimant’s injuries will prevent him or her from returning to work at their full pre-accident capacity.
Most people have heard of compensation for “pain and suffering.” Unlike medical bills or lost wages, there is no set formula to determine the dollar amount of a person’s pain and suffering, so a jury must determine the amount. This is why this type of compensation is often referred to as “non-economic damages.” Insurance companies often fight hard on this issue. An experienced personal injury attorney knows how best to convince an insurance company that a jury is likely to award a large amount for pain and suffering.
While the types of accident compensation discussed here are the most common, there are other types a claimant may recover. This is why it is in an injured person’s best interest to hire an experienced car accident attorney. If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident, do not try to go it alone. Consult an attorney in your area to ensure that you have the best chance of recovering all the compensation to which you are entitled.
Overview of Georgia Automobile Insurance Law
In Georgia, it is important to have a basic understanding of automobile liability coverage. Automobile accidents, although rare in a driver’s lifetime, do happen and are something we must all deal with accordingly. Taking a proactive approach to understanding the necessary material within Georgia automobile insurance is beneficial for all Georgia motorists.
In the typical automobile liability policy issued in Georgia, the insurer (e.g. State farm, Allstate, etc.) agrees to pay on behalf of the insured driver all sums which the insured shall become legally obligated to pay as damages because of bodily injury, sickness or disease, including death resulting therefrom and because of injury to of destruction of property, including loss of use thereof arising out of the ownership, maintenance or use of the owned automobile or any non-owned automobile. Ga. Automobile Insurance Law § 10:1 (2014-2015 ed.).
If you have purchased an automobile liability policy liability, this essentially means that your insurance company agrees to pay for any harm that results if you are found to be the “at fault driver” in an auto accident.
The insurer also has a “Duty to defend”, which means the liability insurer agrees to defend the insured in any action brought against its insured, which is covered under the terms of the policy. Id. The insurer is contractually bound to represent its insured in accidents involving the insured automobile that causes bodily injury or property damage. However, where a judgment is entered against the insured for injuries covered in the policy, the insurer is only obligated to pay that judgment up to the policy limits. Id. The insured driver must pay any amount of money that is entered in the judgment above the policy limits. For example, if a driver has a policy limit of $25,000 covering personal injury, and a court enters a $30,000 judgment against the driver for liability in an automobile accident, the driver is then responsible to pay for the additional $5,000.
When discussing Georgia liability insurance it is important to mention “stacking.” A judicially established rule that governs stacking mandates that liability insurance “follow the car” (insurance follows the car rule). This means that the coverage purchased for the automobile will follow the car regardless of who may be driving. Ga. Automobile Insurance Law § 15:1. The widely accepted judicial rule still may be altered by the terms of individual policies, and is also subject to three statutory exceptions: (1) the automobile dealer’s exception; (2) rental car agencies; and (3) insolvent liability insurers. These three exceptions change the order of stacking liability coverage in applicable situations. Id.
Within insurance law, the term stacking determines the priority of payment of insurance benefits where two or more insurers provide insurance coverage for the same insured event. Id. The term stacking comes from the idea that the primary policy forms the base and the other policies, if you have multiple cars, are “stacked” on top of the primary policy. Remember, the liability insurance coverage follows the car, so the primary policy covers the automobile being operated at the time of the incident out of which the liability arises. Id. at 15:2.
One distinction in automobile insurance that needs to be explained is the difference between liability insurance and uninsured motorist coverage (UM). Uninsured motorist insurance is beneficial to purchase because there many Georgia drivers operating their vehicles without insurance coverage. UM coverage applies if you are (1) not the at-fault driver and (2) the at-fault driver is uninsured or underinsured.
In Georgia, stacking can also apply to UM insurance coverage. Again, stacking is a potential option if you obtain insurance for more than one vehicle and you wish to combine the policies to cover the total dollar amount caused by the incident. In a situation where you are involved in an auto accident with an uninsured driver, and you are not found to be the at-fault driver, UM stacking would apply. As an example, if you have two cars, and your UM limit is $30,000, you could theoretically combine your UM coverage for a total of $60,000.
The benefit of stacking with UM coverage is that if you are involved with an uninsured motorist, you can combine your coverage to increase the payment limits of your auto insurance. The downside to stacking is that inevitably your insurance rates will be raised because insurance companies need to offset the risk of paying higher disbursements. Additionally, stacking cannot be used to cover property damage expenses, and can only be used for bodily injury damages.
As a Georgia motorist, the minimum limits of liability coverage required by law are bodily injury liability of $25,000 per person/$50,000 per occurrence, and property damage liability of $25,000 per occurrence. The majority of insured drivers in Georgia only obtain the minimum requirements of liability insurance.
No one wants to imagine the worst case scenario, but driving an automobile is one of the most dangerous activities a person can engage in. It may not be necessary to seek legal counsel if you are involved in an auto accident, but it can be helpful to gain a foundational knowledge of Georgia insurance laws. At Haug Law Group, our car accident lawyers in Atlanta, GA can help to provide an understanding of insurance liability coverage which enables drivers to make intelligent decisions if misfortune occurs on the roadways.