Governmental Liability


At Finch McCranie, LLP, our personal injury attorneys receive many phone calls from Georgia and the rest of the nation that have been injured because of negligence by a state or federal government agency. The first issue that our lawyers always address is: Does sovereign immunity rule out filing a personal injury claim against the agency?

Sovereign immunity is an ancient doctrine that originated from English common law. In the United States, sovereign immunity means that a government body cannot be sued for personal injury negligence without its permission.

Legislators, scholars, and judges have acknowledged the injustice and unfairness created by the doctrine of sovereign immunity. There are many exceptions to the sovereign immunity rule because of this.

For example, the Federal Tort Claims Act lets an injured person demand recovery from the federal government under specific circumstances. You could, for instance, file a personal injury claim under this act against the government if you sustained injuries in a car accident that occurred because a U.S. Postal Service truck driver was negligent.

The Georgia Tort Claims Act, adopted by the Georgia legislature, applies only to state government agencies and not to county or city agencies. This means that the Georgia Tort Claims Act does not cover many kinds of governmental actions, which are therefore still protected by sovereign immunity.

There are, however, exceptions to the sovereign immunity doctrine. If a county or state buys liability insurance coverage for its motor vehicles, a victim who is injured because one of the vehicles was not operated properly could recover damages as high as the amount provided for by insurance coverage.

Sovereign immunity does not bar actions against a county or state government body (or its employees) for violating a person’s civil rights. Sovereign immunity does not prevent legal actions against a municipality that has maintained a nuisance.

Sovereign immunity law is very complex. The Georgia legislature often modifies the law as it pertains to certain types of actions and agencies. The courts in Georgia have issued conflicting decisions regarding sovereign immunity.

For answers to your questions regarding sovereign immunity and whether this doctrine has any bearing on your personal injury case in Georgia, contact Finch McCranie, LLP today. You can contact us online or call us at (800) 228-9159. One of our Atlanta, Georgia personal injury attorneys with experience in the area of sovereign immunity will be happy to provide you with a free case evaluation.