Injury victims who are hurt as a result of the negligence of an employee of a government agency or municipality face additional hurdles in seeking recovery for their loss. A state appellate court recently released a decision in a Georgia premises liability case, siding with a Georgia city and illustrating this point. As a result of the recent ruling, the injured plaintiffs will be unable to pursue their claim against the city.
The plaintiffs in the recently decided case are a group of people who were injured when a dock ramp owned by the city of Savannah collapsed while the plaintiffs were waiting to board a ferry that was alleged to be a part of the city’s municipal road system. The dock collapse injured several people, who filed suit against the city and municipal transit authority operating the ferry, alleging that they negligently operated the ferry system. Before trial, the city disputed its liability for the claim, alleging that as a municipality it was immune from a negligence lawsuit. The trial court ruled against the city’s motion, finding that under Georgia law, a city can be sued for failure to maintain public roads, which includes ferries.
The city appealed the ruling to the Court of Appeals of Georgia, claiming that they had sovereign immunity from the suit under Georgia law. The appellate court agreed with the lower court that the ferry system, and therefore the dock that collapsed, were part of the public road system as required by state law for the city to waive sovereign immunity. However, the court went on to find that the city ultimately was immune from suit because the city did not have notice of any defect in the ramp, nor should they have noticed it by practicing ordinary care and due diligence in maintaining the ramp and ferry system. Because the plaintiffs presented insufficient evidence to the court to demonstrate that the city should have known about the dangerous ramp, they will not be able to pursue their claim against the city.
Pursuing a negligence claim against a city, state, or other government agency is much more difficult than against a private party. Sovereign immunity laws are designed to make successful negligence claims against public entities much harder to pursue, and without a diligent and skilled attorney who is familiar with the relevant laws and requirements, plaintiffs may have their claims rejected by the court long before a jury is able to hear what happened and award possible damages.
Are You a Victim of Negligence?
If you or a loved one has been injured by a dangerous condition or other negligent act occurring on a public street or in any other government-owned area, you may have a claim for damages, although it can be an uphill battle to secure a settlement or verdict against a city or state, or other government entity. The personal injury attorneys at McAleer Law have extensive experience handling Georgia premises liability cases, and we understand the requirements to successfully pursuing a claim against a government entity and getting around claims of sovereign immunity. If you have been injured, call 404-622-5337 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation today.