The Supreme Court of Texas recently published an opinion concerning a claim regarding liability in lawsuits involving sovereign immunity. In the case, Molina v. Alvarado, an individual sued a driver employed by a city for negligence and negligence per se, after the city employee allegedly caused an accident by hitting the individual’s car while intoxicated.
The plaintiff claimed that the city employee was operating the vehicle during the scope of his employment and that the City, through the driver, was responsible for the injuries sustained. After the City was sued, they asserted their privilege of sovereign immunity and argued that the Texas Tort Claims Act (TTCA) did not waive their immunity. The court agreed with the defendant and dismissed the City from the lawsuit.
After this decision, the plaintiff requested that the city provide a legal and factual basis for its immunity. However, that request was denied by the court. Additionally, the plaintiff added the driver as a defendant. The plaintiff then went on to include an alternate argument contending that, even if he wasn’t working within the scope of his employment, he was negligent in his individual capacity.
The court of appeals found that there was a question of material fact regarding whether the driver was working in his scope of employment. However, the court reversed that decision and held that the plaintiff’s decision to only sue the City and not the individual employee amounted to an “irrevocable election,” and therefore the plaintiff could not bring a future suit for this claim against the driver.
Sovereign Immunity Defense in Georgia
In most situations after an individual has been injured in a car accident because of the negligence of another individual or entity, the victim will file a personal injury suit to recoup damages. However, in situations where the alleged tortfeasor is a government agency, the process is more complex.
Like many states, Georgia has a sovereign immunity statute in place that explains that the state cannot be sued without their consent. Basically, a governmental agency in Georgia can only be sued if they allow it. In most cases, the government will not allow itself to be sued if the alleged tortfeasor was acting within their discretionary power.
Sovereign Immunity Waiver in Georgia
Although the sovereign immunity defense seems to be unfair and daunting to an individual who was injured by the government or their agent, there are certain exceptions. The state has acknowledged that in certain circumstances plaintiffs should be entitled to compensation for their injuries. This is sometimes applied in cases of substantial property damage or when there was egregious, reckless, or otherwise tortious conduct.
Have You Been Injured Because of the Negligence of the Government or a Governmental Agent?
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed because of the negligence of a governmental entity or agent, you should consider seeking the assistance of a personal injury attorney. As you can see, these cases involve many hurdles and are generally quite complex. An experienced attorney can assist you in developing your claim and ensuring that you have included all of the appropriate parties. If you are successful, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for your injuries related to the accident. Contact one of the attorneys at the Miller Legal Services at 770-284-3727 to schedule a free initial consultation.
See Related Blog Posts:
Litigation Against General Motors Continues, Marietta Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, April 15, 2015.
Filmmakers Plead Guilty and Avoid Trial in Fatal Train Georgia Accident, Marietta Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, March 18, 2015.