A person or company wanting to sue the State of Georgia must send the government an “ante litem notice” before they can file their lawsuit. There is a minimum level of detail that must be put in the ante litem notice, and there are strict time limits that must be followed for the ante litem notice to be effective.
The basic rules for sending an ante litem notice for claims against a State of Georgia are contained in O.C.G.A. § 50-21-26. The ante litem notice must be sent within one year of the date the loss was discovered (or should have been discovered). The ante litem notice must be delivered by hand, or sent by certified mail or statutory overnight delivery with return receipt requested. It must be sent to the Risk Management Division of the Department of Administrative Services in Atlanta, and it must also be sent via First Class Mail to the responsible Georgia entity that caused the loss. Further, the ante litem notice must contain the following information:
- the name of the responsible Georgia entity;
- the time of the transaction or occurrence from which the loss occurred;
- the place of the transaction or occurrence;
- the nature of the loss suffered;
- the amount of the loss claimed; and
- the acts or omissions alleged to have caused the loss.
The laws surrounding the mandatory content of the ante litem notice are unforgiving. A Georgia ante litem notice must “strictly comply” with O.C.G.A. § 50-21-26. That’s why it’s important to hire a lawyer to help with your ante litem notice as soon as possible if you think you have a claim against the State. Any slight error in the notice can result in a Georgia court dismissing your case.
For example, in a recent Supreme Court of Georgia case, a woman was injured when she stepped into a bad pothole in a parking lot on the campus of Dalton State College. She received extensive personal injuries to her leg, including a fractured bone and torn tendons. Her attorney sent the ante litem notice and described the victim’s personal injuries and the events that caused them. However, for the “amount of the loss claimed”, the ante litem notice stated that the loss was yet to be determined because the victim was still incurring medical bills and did not yet know the full extent of her injury. When the victim ultimately sued the State of Georgia, the notice was held to be invalid, and the woman was barred from proceeding with her lawsuit because there was no specific dollar amount stated in the ante litem notice. See Bd. Of Regents of the Univ. Sys. of Ga. v. Myers, 295 Ga. 843 (2014). The statement that the loss was yet to be determined was insufficient under the requirement that Georgia ante litem notices strictly comply with the requirements described above. The State of Georgia won the case on a technicality before the victim was even allowed to present evidence about her injuries.
If a Georgia employee or agency is responsible for causing harm to you or someone you know, call the Califf Law Firm at 706-530-1212. We are experienced in handling personal injury cases against the State of Georgia.