quick facts

Non-Constitutional Tort Liability

The State Constitution’s only self-executing remedy lies in the Takings Clause, which requires “just and adequate compensation for private property taken by the government for a public use.” 1 Georgia has no equivalent to Section 1983. The Georgia Tort Claims Act (“GTCA”) is the exclusive remedy to recover damages for torts committed by “state officers and employees while acting within the scope of their official duties or employment”; it provides that the State shall be liable “in the same manner as a private individual or entity would be liable under like circumstances.” 2 However, specifically excluded from this waiver is liability for most intentional torts and any “performance of or the failure to exercise or perform a discretionary function or duty . . . whether or not the discretion involved is abused[.]” 3 The GTCA also limits liability by capping recoverable damages. 4

Although the GTCA does not apply to county, municipal, or other local officers, a local government entity sued under respondeat superior for an employee’s negligence is entitled to its own sovereign immunity. 5 A municipality or county may nevertheless be liable for damages caused by an employee’s negligent use of a vehicle to the extent that the local government purchased automobile insurance on that vehicle. 6

The GTCA establishes a strict pre-litigation notice requirement. 7 Notice of a claim must be given in writing within one year of the alleged injury and must include:
(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. 8

After receiving notice, the Department of Administrative Services has 90 days to approve or deny the claim. 9 Georgia courts lack jurisdiction to hear a claim raised under the GTCA until the Department rejects the claim or 90 days pass without any action. 10