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McGahren Law

Suing a City or Government is a Tricky Process

For many situations, government is immune from suit. There are a few exceptions such as state worker’s torts (causing harm) while on the job.

Section 50-21-23 part A of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) Limited waiver of sovereign immunity:

The state waives its sovereign immunity for the torts of state officers and employees while acting within the scope of their official duties or employment and shall be liable for such torts in the same manner as a private individual or entity would be liable under like circumstances; provided, however, that the state’s sovereign immunity is waived subject to all exceptions and limitations set forth in this article. The state shall have no liability for losses resulting from conduct on the part of state officers or employees which was not within the scope of their official duties or employment.

Section 36-33-1 part A of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) Immunity from liability for damages:

Pursuant to Article IX, Section II, Paragraph IX of the Constitution of the State of Georgia, the General Assembly, except as provided in this Code section and in Chapter 92 of this title, declares it is the public policy of the State of Georgia that there is no waiver of the sovereign immunity of municipal corporations of the state and such municipal corporations shall be immune from liability for damages…

The window of opportunity is small.

For instance, if you are in Atlanta, Georgia, you would file a claim with the City of Atlanta using this form. When someone is injured, or their property is damaged, and they believe the City of Atlanta to be responsible, Georgia Law mandates that a claim on an event must be made in writing to the governing authority within (6) six months of its occurrence, and specify such details as damages claimed and people involved in the event.

For claims against the state of Georgia, written notice must be given within (12) twelve months of the date of injury or loss. Notice must be given via mail or hand delivery to the Risk Management Division of the Department of Administrative Services. The case can be filed in court only after the Department of Administrative Services has denied the claim, or if more than 90 days pass without the Department taking any action after the claim is filed.

In Georgia, for personal injury, a claim must be filed within two years.


You must give the city notice to maintain a claim.

Cities are often immune from negligence claims by individuals. One ‘legal theory’ available is a nuisance claim. This requires the plaintiff to show a pattern where the city knows a problem exists and does not resolve it. In order to maintain a nuisance claim against the city, one must first “put the city on notice.” Under Georgia law, before an action for personal injury or injury to property can be brought against the city or other municipal entity, one must first send a written ante-litem notice.

Section § 41-1-4. Chapter 1 General Provisions of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA)

Right of action for private nuisance generally. A private nuisance may injure either a person or property, or both, and for that injury a right of action accrues to the person who is injured or whose property is damaged.


DISCLAIMER: The information herein is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. For any legal matters, you are urged to take the advice of an attorney familiar with your case.


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