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In Georgia, the doctrine of sovereign immunity ordinarily prevents an individual from pursuing a tort claim against the State, see, e.g., Musgrove v. Ga. Ry. & Banking Co., 204 Ga. 139 (1948), although the Georgia Constitution provides that immunity of political subdivisions of the state, such as counties, municipalities, and school districts, may be waived by the Georgia Legislature. See Ga. Const. Art. IX, § II, ¶ IX. The immunity may also be waived (preemptively) in certain circumstances, most notably those involving motor vehicle collisions. That’s because certain state laws require the purchase of insurance for motor vehicle collisions, as a matter of public policy. See, e.g., O.C.G.A. §§ 20-2-1090, 20-2-1092 (for school buses). It’s also been waived with respect to breach of contract actions. See O.C.G.A. § 50-21-1. Finally, sovereign immunity has been waived for torts committed by employees or officers of the state, so long as the torts were committed within the course and scope of the person’s employment. See O.C.G.A. § 50-21-23.

In any event, if sovereign immunity is waived by statute, then an additional hurdle remains: proper notice must be given to the state for it to be held liable. This is called ante litem notice, and is entirely separate from a statute of limitation. Generally speaking, ante litem notice must be given within 12 months of the date of the incident. Be aware that this is most likely much quicker than the applicable statute of limitation, which is usually just two years for personal injury matters! In the case of a minor, however, depending on the age of the child, it could be a very long time before the applicable statute of limitation might expire, so there may not be a significant pressure to jump on a defendant because the child is still treating for their injuries, or the long term effects haven’t been fully investigated yet, but the clock could be ticking. You should talk with your lawyer frequently if you have a personal injury claim that potentially lies against a state agency or employee. Note, however, that this ante litem notice does not apply to school districts. See Payne v. Blackwell, 259 Ga. 483, 484 (1989).

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