In an Atlanta personal injury lawsuit filed against a municipal corporation (such as a city government), the injured person must give written notice of his or her claim prior to filing suit, or else he or she will not be allowed to maintain a negligence case seeking compensation for his or her injuries.
This claim must be made within six months of the event giving rise to the plaintiff's claim, and it must be made in writing to the governing authority of the municipal corporation.
Additionally, the notice must state the time and place of the accident, the extent of the plaintiff's injuries, and the manner in which the defendant's negligence is alleged to have caused the injuries in question.
Facts of the Case
In a recently decided appellate case, the plaintiff was a man who filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant city, seeking to recover compensation for injuries he suffered after stepping in a water meter hole that he claimed was not covered. Although the plaintiff had submitted an ante-litem notice to the defendant prior to filing suit, as required by law, the defendant argued that it was entitled to summary judgment because the notice gave an incorrect address as the location for the meter in question.
The trial court agreed with the defendant and entered summary judgment in its favor, holding that the plaintiff's notice failed to substantially comply with the statutory requirements of Official Code of Georgia Annotated § 36-33-5.
Decision of the Court
The Court of Appeals of Georgia affirmed the trial court's order granting summary judgment to the defendant city. The plaintiff had reported his accident to the police department as having occurred at "425 Chappell Road." His anti-litem notice to the defendant stated that his injury happened "at or near 239 Chappell Road." Neither of these addresses was correct. The accident actually happened at "380 Chappell Road." According to the defendant, there were at least 50 different water meters located along the route plotted by the various addresses given by the plaintiff, but there was no water meter located at the address specified in the ante-litem notice.
Thus, the court found that the plaintiff had failed to substantially comply with the applicable statute because his notice had failed to provide sufficient information for the defendant to be able to properly investigate the claim.
Get Help with an Atlanta Personal Injury Claim
Failing to file the required (and factually accurate) notice in a timely fashion is fatal to a would-be negligence lawsuit against a municipality. In addition, suit must be filed within the applicable statute of limitations. Thus, it is very important for a person hurt by a governmental entity's act of negligence to seek legal counsel as soon as possible after an accident so that the proper paperwork can be prepared and submitted before the critical deadlines. The Law Offices of T. Andrew Miller, LLC, can help you get started on your Atlanta personal injury claim. Just call 678-894-4758 to schedule a free consultation to get started on your case!