Many State Agencies and Employees Have Immunity From Tort Actions but Immunity May Be Waived in Certain Circumstances
A Georgia Appellate court recently denied a state agency’s claim of sovereign immunity in a case involving the controlled burn of land situated near a highway. The controlled burn produced a substantial amount of smoke that impeded vision and caused several accidents, including the one that caused the death of a Georgia woman’s husband and son. The state agency claimed sovereign immunity under Georgia’s Tort Claims Act (GTCA). The trial court agreed but on appeal the woman successfully argued that the state agency was negligent in not informing the Georgia State Police that a controlled burn was being conducted near a highway in violation of state policies.
Why Does the State Have Sovereign Immunity?
Georgia, like virtually all other states in the union, has limited when an individual can recover from the state and how much the individual can recover. This is due to the large amount of responsibilities and areas in which the state operates. Without a shield against tort claims, the state could potentially be on the hook for limitless amounts of damages as it conducts its everyday activities and duties.
When Does the State Have Immunity?
Employees and officers of the state of Georgia are entitled to sovereign immunity in all cases except those waived under the GTCA. This means that unless your claim meets a certain exception under the GTCA, you are barred from recovering against the state. Employees who exercise discretionary decision making cannot be sued for exercising their authority, nor can an agency be sued for failing to enforce or for enforcing a law. The GTCA also sets out 13 specific situations in which the state does not waive immunity.
It is difficult to generalize exactly when the state has waived its immunity. The GTCA was only passed in 1992 and is in constant flux. Much of the language of the statute is constantly being interpreted by Georgia courts as the case cited above illustrates.
Sovereign Immunity Claims Can Deny You Recovery You Need
State entities and their agents employ claims of sovereign immunity to your detriment when they have caused an accident or contributed to one. While there may be sound policy reasoning behind the limited immunity that state actors and agents have that is little consolation to the people who suffer at the hands of the state. An experienced attorney may be able to help navigate the treacherous waters that are torts against the state of Georgia.
If you have been injured due to the negligence of a Georgia state agency or a Georgia state employee, you should contact the attorneys at Cash, Krugler & Fredericks, LLC. They can assist you in all of your legal needs and help you get the compensation you need in order to recover from your injuries. Do not attempt to go up against the state of Georgia alone. Contact us today at (404) 659-1710 to schedule a confidential consultation about your claim.
See Related Posts:
What Constitutes Medical Malpractice in Georgia?
Recently, our firm experienced a victory over a negligent doctor who wrongly prescribed a dangerous drug and failed to provide adequate treatment of care in monitoring the patient for any side effects. The doctor’s actions constituted a breach in the doctor’s duty of care to the patient resulting in the patient’s death. While it was a clear-cut case of a doctor’s carelessness and ineptitude causing a horrible wrong, most of the time it is not so easy to diagnose when medical malpractice has occurred. What constitutes medical malpractice is entirely dependent on the situation and is often times hard to correctly identify.
Medical Mistakes are Not Always Medical Malpractice
Medical errors kill more than 251,000 people each year in the United States, arguably constituting the third leading cause of death in the United States, more than respiratory diseases, and accidents. Despite these damning statistics, not every medical error may constitute medical malpractice. Even in cases in which a doctor makes a mistake, that mistake may not rise to the levels of negligence required to constitute medical malpractice.
It is important to note early that just because a patient receives a poor result from their medical care, a broken bone not healing properly, a condition not improving, does not mean that the doctor has committed medical malpractice. Sadly, no matter how much medicine relies on scientific advancement and understanding, the practice of medicine is not an exact science. A doctor who misdiagnoses a patient with a rare disease or fails to catch an underlying condition that was in its early stages is not automatically liable under Georgia law for medical malpractice.
A Reasonably Prudent Health Care Provider
Under the Georgia Code, a person practicing surgery or medicine must exercise a reasonable degree of care and skill. If a doctor does not exercise this degree of care and skill, they have acted negligently and may be liable to the victims of that negligence. Whether or not a doctor will be found to have breached the standard of care expected of them under Georgia law will depend on whether that doctor acted as a reasonably prudent similar healthcare provider should have done under the circumstances.
While that may sound like an objective standard, what a reasonably prudent similar medical professional would have done under the circumstances is actually quite subjective when applied to a specific set of facts. For example, primary care physicians in a rural area may be negligent if they fail to diagnose a common ailment like the flu or pneumonia, but would not be negligent if they failed to recognize a rare tropical disease presenting with the same symptoms. The same may not be said of a doctor who works in a highly specialized field of researching and treating tropical diseases who fails to catch the rare disease.
Consult with a Georgia Medical Malpractice Attorney
Medical malpractice cases represent some of the toughest cases to collect damages in. In fact, up to 80% of all medical malpractice lawsuits may ultimately be unsuccessful due to the fact that no medical malpractice may have been committed and the lawsuit was not entirely based in fact.
This startling statistic underscores the importance of consulting with an experienced medical malpractice attorney in order to properly investigate claims of medical malpractice and determine if a sound case exists before proceeding against a healthcare provider. We here at Cash Krugler & Fredericks in Atlanta, GA have decades of experience in helping those wronged by healthcare providers and getting them the compensation and care that they deserve. Contact us today for a confidential consultation by calling (404) 659-1710 or visiting us online.
See Related Posts:
An explosion recently shook the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia, PA. It was not a bomb that blew out windows and caused a forced evacuation of the building, but an elevator malfunction so powerful that it caused damage from the top of the 17-story building down to its basement. Only two people were injured, but both are listed as in critical condition.
What was the cause of the accident? At this time, it is unknown. Despite the fact that all the elevators had recently been inspected within the past six months, it was clear that there was a major malfunction. The accident caused one passenger car to rise through the building all the way to the top, colliding with the structure that houses the motors. The collision dislodged concrete and caused steel to rain down the adjacent shaft onto the roof of another elevator car.
The injuries suffered by the two victims of the accident were typical of an elevator accident: serious and possibly debilitating. One victim suffered serious head and chest injuries, as well as broken bones in his back while the other escaped with minor injuries and psychological trauma.
Elevators are everywhere in our life and many of us use them every single day, at work or at home. When elevators function properly, they are practically invisible in our lives. No one gives a second of thought as to whether or not an elevator will work. We just expect them to.
When elevators malfunction due to improper design, installation, or maintenance, the experience and consequences can be harrowing. At the very least, you may be trapped in a small claustrophobic box for several hours until rescued. At worst, as was the case in Philadelphia, you may experience serious and possibly fatal injuries.
Cash, Krugler & Fredericks, Making a Difference in Elevator Accidents
We here at Cash Krugler & Fredericks take elevator accidents seriously and have been at the forefront of elevator accident litigation for years, seeking to hold those negligent parties responsible for the life-changing injuries they inflict on unsuspecting elevator users. Our representation of elevator accident victims has led us to develop strong relationships with leading engineering and design experts on elevator safety as well as changes to Georgia law regarding elevator safety.
Despite our best efforts, elevator accidents continue to occur around the country. If you have been involved in an elevator accident, it is important to have representation that is familiar and experienced with common issues that arise during elevator accident litigation. Know what your rights and recovery options are moving forward. We here at Cash Krugler & Fredericks can help.
See Related Posts: