Generally, a person has 2 years to file a personal injury lawsuit in Georgia. This 2-year period is known as the “statute of limitations period.” With few exceptions, if an injured person does not file their lawsuit within 2 years of the event that gave rise to their injury, his or her lawsuit is barred.
However, when the government—city, county, or state—is the cause of the injury, there is an additional requirement that a person must meet to file their case before the statute of limitations period expires. The injured person must give notice to the government that he or she intends to bring a claim. This notice is otherwise known as an “ante-litem notice.” Depending on the governmental entity being sued, that notice must be given within either 6 months or a year. If the government is not put on notice that a person intends to bring a claim during this time period, it does not matter that the lawsuit is filed within 2 years—the lawsuit will be dismissed.
City or Municipality Ante-litem Requirements
An injured person may find themselves with a claim against the city in a variety of circumstances—maybe the truck you who hit you was a city employee working at the time of the crash, or you fell and injured yourself after stepping in a pothole maintained by the city. If you are injured, it is important to find out who your claim is against as soon as possible. Reason being, when making a claim against a city, town, or municipal corporation, time is of the essence. The time you must put a city on notice about your claim is half the time for states and counties—6 months.
- Notice must be given within 6 months of the happening of the event which caused the injury;
- Notice must be mailed via certified mail or statutory overnight delivery to the mayor or the chairperson of the city council or the city commission;
- Notice must include the time, place, and extent of the injury (as nearly as practicable);
- Notice must state the negligence which caused the injury; and
- Notice must state the amount of monetary damages sought for the injury.
State Ante-litem Requirements
Claims against the state can arise in many different circumstances as well. The requirements for an ante-litem notice to the state government are similar to the notice requirements for the county. The main differences are the time the injured person has to give notice about the claim and who they must give the notice to:
- Notice must be given within 12 months of when the injury was or should have been discovered
- Notice must be mailed certified mail or statutory overnight delivery, return receipt requested or delivered personally to the Department of Administrative Services with a receipt obtained.
- Notice must be mailed via first-class mail to the state government entity against which the acts of negligence are made;
- Notice must state the name of the state government entity against whom the claims are made;
- Notice must state the time, place, and nature of the loss suffered;
- Notice must state the amount of the loss claimed; and
- Notice must state the acts and omissions which caused the loss.
For claims against counties, the ante-litem requirements are much laxer. The most important factor is time. Just like claims against the state government, counties must be “presented” with the claims against them within 12 months after the injury. However, the law does not have any formal requirements for what the notice must include. Because of that, it is always safer to provide the same or similar information to a county that you would provide to a state or a municipality in the same circumstances.
Often, you may not know who is responsible for causing your injury. You may not know that the driver who hit you was working for the city or county at the time of a crash. You might not know who is responsible for managing a street or a sidewalk containing a pothole or a crack that you slipped and fell on. That is why you need to speak with an attorney as soon as possible after your injury. If you treat your claim like any other (or one not against the government) and wait until 6 months after your injury to speak with a lawyer, you may be barred from recovery altogether.
If you have a claim for personal injury against the government, or do not know and want to be sure who your claim is against, call 404-900-9933 for a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer at Rafi Law Firm.