HURT IN AN ACCIDENT INVOLVING A GEORGIA STATE AGENCY?
Posted by Ben Sessions | | Uncategorized
If you were hurt in an accident involve a Georgia state agency, you must be certain that your lawyer complies with the terms of the Georgia Tort Claims Act. The Georgia Tort Claims Act has very specific requirements that must be complied with or the State will not be held liable for your injuries.
WHAT IS TIMELY NOTICE OF THE CLAIM UNDER THE GEORGIA TORT CLAIMS ACT? WHAT IF THE NOTICE IS MAILED WITHIN THE 12-MONTH PERIOD BUT IS RECEIVED AFTER THE 12-MONTH PERIOD?
Fortunately for claimants, the Georgia Supreme Court has relieved some of the former requirements for strict adherence to the terms of the Georgia Tort Claims Act and permitted claimants to mail their notices within 12 months and the notice is valid even if it is received after the expiration of the 12-month period:
In concluding that receipt of the notice of claim within the 12 month period was required under the statute, the Court of Appeals relied on Hardy v. Candler County, 214 Ga.App. 627, 448 S.E.2d 487 (1994). Hardy acknowledged that the Georgia Act does not define the terms “given”2 and “presented,”3 but it applied federal authority interpreting the Federal Tort Claims Act, Barlow v. AVCO Corp., 527 F.Supp. 269 (E.D.Va.1981), and interpreted our statutory language as meaning actual receipt by the state within the requisite statutory time. A critical distinction, as noted in Barlow, is that federal regulations specifically provide that “ ‘a claim shall be deemed to have been presented, when the Department receives…’ such a claim. 29 C.F.R. § 15.4” Barlow, supra at 273. Applying such a definition to the Georgia Act is neither authorized nor required because the plain language of OCGA § 50–21–26(a)(2) provides as an alternative to actual delivery that notice of claim is given upon mailing. Because the Act specifies mailing and does not require receipt, it places an equal burden on all claimants. To hold the sender responsible for ensuring actual receipt of the notice within the statutory time would create a harsh and unreasonable rule because a document which is placed in the mail is no longer within the sender’s control. The mailing requirement, therefore, comports with the stated legislative intent of achieving fairness and uniformity in the application of the Act. Since Norris mailed his ante litem notice in the manner specified by OCGA § 50–21–26(a)(2), and within the statutory time frame, he complied with the provisions of the Act. To the extent that Hardy v. Candler County, supra, states otherwise, it is expressly overruled.
Norris v. Georgia Dep’t of Transp., 268 Ga. 192, 193, 486 S.E.2d 826, 828 (1997)