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Georgia Court Dismisses Claim Against Government Defendant Based on Plaintiff’s Failure to Comply with Notice Requirement

In a recent Georgia personal injury case, the parents of a young man sued the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice alleging that their son was injured while he was detained at a youth detention facility. The parents alleged that an employee at the facility negligently closed an automatic steel door, causing the son’s finger to be amputated. Within a month of their son’s injury, the parents provided an ante litem notice to the Department. The notice did not provide an exact amount of loss claimed, but stated that the son required surgery, amputation, and continuing treatment. The notice also indicated that the boy’s mother had to miss work to bring her son in for medical treatment, so there would be “additional claims for monetary loss and mileage.” The claim further stated, “please advise if this ante litem notice is not sufficient to apprise you of the claims.”

The parents later filed a lawsuit, and the Department argued that the parents’ ante litem notice did not include the specific amount of loss claimed, as required under the Georgia Tort Claims Act. The trial court dismissed the claim on that basis, and the parents appealed. On appeal, the parents argued that their notice was sufficient, and that the court should not have dismissed the claim.

The Georgia Tort Claims Act (GTCA) allows for a waiver of the state’s immunity under certain circumstances. Under the GTCA, one prerequisite to filing a claim against the State is to provide notice of the claim to the State before filing suit. Under OCGA § 50-21-26, the notice must include the name of the state entity, the acts that are the basis for the claim, the time and place of the injury, the specific acts that caused the loss, the nature of the loss suffered, and the amount of the loss claimed.

Here, the court found that the parents simply described the son’s injury and that his mother “would have additional claims for monetary loss and mileage.” The court explained that although a claimant does not need to give notice of the total loss, a claimant must give notice of the amount of the loss claimed at that time, even if the claimant’s knowledge is incomplete at the time. The court also explained that the statement asking the Department to “advise if [the] ante litem notice [was] not sufficient,” did not change the court’s decision because that statement did not absolve the parents of the requirements under the statute. Because the parents failed to substantially comply with the notice requirement under the GTCA, the court held that the trial court was correct in dismissing the claim.

Contact an Atlanta Personal Injury Lawyer

If you have been injured, do not wait to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer. Failure to timely file your claim or otherwise comply with the requirements under the applicable state or federal statutes could result in a dismissal of your claim. McAleer Law has compassionately and skillfully assisted Georgia personal injury victims for over ten years. McAleer Law handles claims arising from serious or catastrophic injuries sustained in a wide range of injury cases, including Georgia premises liability claims and car accident cases. We can evaluate your claim and explore the full range of options available to you. Contact us by calling 404-622-5337 or by filling out our online form.