Claims Against the State of Georgia Get Trickier

Ante litem notice in claims against the State of Georgia has become trickier.  To sue the State under the State Tort Claims Act, written notice must be provided to DOAS (Department of Administrative Service) and to the particular agency involved within 12 months of the date “the loss was discovered or should have been discovered”, O.C.G.A. § 50-21-26(a).  On October 6, 2014, the Georgia Supreme Court held in Board of Regents v. Myers, 2014 Ga. LEXIS 768, that a student’s ante litem notice of her injuries suffered in a university parking lot failed to strictly comply with notice requirements because it did not state any amount of loss whatsoever.  The Court concluded that the plain language of O.C.G.A. § 50-21-26(a)(5)(E) required notice of the amount of the loss claimed at that time, within the belief and knowledge of the claimant, as was practicable under the circumstances. Although the notice stated that the student’s loss was yet to be determined, she was incurring medical bills, and although she did not yet know the full extent of her injury, she had actually incurred medical expenses of $4,180 at the time she gave notice.

That is not exactly what the statute states, and the language is not that plain:

(5) A notice of claim under this Code section shall state, to the extent of the claimant’s knowledge and belief and as may be practicable under the circumstances, the following:

(A)  The name of the state government entity, the acts or omissions of which are asserted as the basis of the claim;

(B)  The time of the transaction or occurrence out of which the loss arose;

(C)  The place of the transaction or occurrence;

(D)  The nature of the loss suffered;

(E)  The amount of the loss claimed; and

(F)  The acts or omissions which caused the loss.”

This new interpretation  creates a another pitfall for plaintiffs pursing claims against the State of Georgia, as there is always room to argue over the meaning of what “as may be practicable under the circumstances,” but it is clear that the “amount of the loss claimed” should be stated specifically.

 

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