The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) partners with private contractors to build and maintain the state’s highways and bridges. GDOT doesn’t want you captive for hours by a mile-long chain of stopped cars because there are insufficient lanes for traffic flow. You have probably noticed the blue-striped, white trucks with the GDOT logo hurrying down I-285 or I-20 because there is a project proposed for a new interchange there.
But what happens when one of these vehicles careens into you? Or when an employee in a private vehicle speeding to a GDOT meeting smashes into the back of your car, injuring you? What if GDOT forgets to mark a construction project and you sail off a torn-up interstate ramp? Can you sue GDOT for negligence after a car wreck? Yes, with the caveat that the rules differ from those governing negligent private citizens. A car accident attorney familiar with claims against the government could help you get compensated.
The Georgia State Torts Claim Act mandates that injured plaintiffs notify GDOT or any government agency being sued. When you are injured in a motor vehicle crash, you must notify Georgia’s Department of Administrative Services risk management division within 12 months. The notice concerning your claim should contain information detailing the accident, your injuries, the amount of compensation you seek, and why you believe GDOT’s negligence caused the accident. Properly presenting your claim requires legal expertise to ensure compliance with the state’s acceptance criteria. Failing to meet the threshold for negligence will sink your claim. In addition, you must provide the risk management office with sufficient time to respond; typically at least 90 days before your attorney can file your lawsuit.
Like a lawsuit against a private citizen, a process server must officially deliver the complaint to the defendant. Unlike the process against a citizen, you must also serve the risk management director at the Department of Administrative Services and send a copy to the state’s Attorney General via certified mail. The lawsuit must contain exhibits that document the notice and the delivery receipt.
Because a claim for damages in a car accident is a tort action, the case would proceed to the superior court in Fulton County if the wreck occurred in Atlanta.
You may be wondering why GDOT doesn’t have sovereign immunity to protect the government agency against having to pay damages in personal injury lawsuits. If GDOT employees doing their jobs cause car accidents that injure others, they are treated like private citizens. This means compensation can be awarded for your:
However, according to the Official Code of Georgia Annotated § 50-21-29, damages are capped at $1 million per single claim per accident and $3 million total per accident. The courts will not award punitive damages if Georgia or its agencies are the defendants under O.C.G.A. § 50-21-30.
You may feel like the little guy if a Georgia government agency employee injures you. When traveling the public roads in and around Atlanta, you may collide with a GDOT truck or encounter one of their interstate projects that is unmarked and causes you to crash.
Our proactive auto collision attorneys could fight for your rights and seek the fair compensation you deserve after an accident involving GDOT. We deal with government red tape, so you do not have to. Contact us today to get started on your claim.