What is Sovereign Immunity?
Most of the time, if you get hurt through no fault of your own, you can be compensated to cover your losses. This money comes from the insurance company of the person or business that hurt you. But what if the government or someone who works for the government caused your accident?
In that case, the rules change, and a legal concept called “sovereign immunity” comes into play. A personal injury lawyer in Georgia can help you figure out how to deal with the problems that come with it.
The Basics of Sovereign Immunity
The idea of sovereign immunity goes back to the Middle Ages. In the United States, sovereign immunity means that the government can only be sued if it agrees. In other words, it can decide whether you can file a lawsuit. Because of this, there are now laws that say what kinds of lawsuits can be brought against the government and what lawsuits cannot. Even if your case goes forward, it will be different from a typical lawsuit.
Sovereign immunity is essential, even though it sounds old-fashioned. It stops people from taking the government to court every time they don’t like something it does. As a result, all levels of government will have the power and safety they need to do their jobs. But it also makes it harder to file normal, valid lawsuits.
In November 2020, Georgians voted overwhelmingly to give up the state’s sovereign immunity. This lets people sue the government when it does things that break state or federal law.
How Does Sovereign Immunity Affect My Personal Injury Claim?
Sovereign immunity only affects your case if the defendant, or the person who hurt you, is a government agency or a person working for the government in their official capacity. So sovereign immunity would apply if, for example, a city truck hit your car. But if the same city worker hits you while driving their personal vehicle outside of work, it’s just an ordinary claim.
For a personal injury claim, sovereign immunity has two main effects:
- Most injury claims in Georgia can be submitted up to two years after they happen, but if the government is involved, the time limit is usually six months to a year.
- You might have to file an administrative claim first. If your claim is against the federal government, you must go through an “administrative” process outside the courts. This is a chance for the government to fix things without going to court.
There may be more things that complicate matters. When a government agency is involved in a claim, you should immediately talk to an excellent personal injury lawyer.
What Types of Cases Involve Sovereign Immunity?
The government could be involved in any kind of case, but it happens most often in the following claims:
- When a government vehicle is involved in a car or truck accident (including police cars)
- Slip and fall accidents and other claims of premise liability that happen on government property, such as City Hall, public parks, or any other property owned by the government
- Any type of injury caused by or involving a government worker if they were on the clock when it happened
Personal injury claims against the government can be complex, but you are still entitled to the full amount you are owed. After an accident, you should always hire a personal injury lawyer.
Contact the Personal Injury Lawyers at The Brown Firm
If you have been injured, the experienced personal injury attorneys at The Brown Firm offer free consultations to accident victims in Georgia and South Carolina. Call 800-529-1441 to speak with our personal injury team today!
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