Articles Tagged with sovereign immunity

Published on:

High-speed police chases make for exciting footage on local newscasts. They also pose a very real danger to the general public. When law enforcement officials make the decision to initiate or continue a chase, they must be mindful of other motorists on the road. If police recklessness leads to the injury or death of an innocent party, the government may be held accountable in court.

Wingler v. White

This is not to say that every personal injury claim arising from a police chase will be upheld in court. To the contrary, Georgia law sets strict limits on which such lawsuits may be heard. In order to get around the “sovereign immunity” of the state and its municipalities, Georgia courts have said that a victim must prove that his or her losses arose from the “negligent use” of a police vehicle where the officers “acted with reckless disregard for proper law enforcement procedures in pursuing a fleeing suspect.”

Published on:

All Georgia motorists have a duty to obey the rules of the road and drive with care. Even when a driver does everything by the book, an accident may still occur due to someone else’s negligence or due to a public nuisance created by improper design or maintenance of the roadway. In the latter scenario, the local government responsible for operating the roadway may be liable for personal injuries sustained by an accident victim.

Mayor and Alderman of City of Savannah v. Herrera

Normally Georgia cities and municipalities are protected from civil lawsuits by sovereign immunity. The state legislature has waived this immunity in cases in which a local government fails to correct a known roadway defect. As explained by the Georgia Court of Appeals in a 2005 decision, “municipalities generally have a ministerial duty to keep their streets in repair, and they are liable for injuries resulting from defects after actual notice, or after the defect has existed for a sufficient length of time for notice to be inferred.” This includes defects arising from both man-made and natural causes.