The History of Sovereign Immunity
Sovereign immunity is an idea that passed into American history through its British heritage. The idea of sovereign immunity is that a government as an acting entity should not be held accountable for certain actions. The monarch of Britain has sovereign immunity from any legal action. This means that he or she is literally untouchable in the British court system. While the founding fathers were interested in a democracy, the founders believed that sovereign immunity should extend to American leadership to some degree. Therefore, limited sovereign immunity was granted to those who work for the American government; states could use this sovereign immunity as well. In one state, this soverign immunity trickles down to schools as an acting agent of government authority.
Sovereign Immunity in Georgia Today
In June 2017, sovereign immunity was upheld by the Georgia Supreme Court when three women tried to fight a Georgia abortion law. Essentially, sovereign law is the idea that the state of Georgia, its officers in their official capacities, and its departments and agencies cannot be sued “without consent.” This rule means the Georgia government cannot be sued without the state of Georgia allowing a lawsuit to happen.
The effects of this law can even be seen in personal injury cases. For example, a boy was seriously hurt while playing basketball in his high school gym. When chasing the ball down the court, he ran throat-first into a volleyball pole that had yet to be taken down by his gym teacher. The impact required an immediate life-flight to an equipped hospital. He has undergone 13 surgeries since his accident. However, when he and his parents tried to sue the school for negligence, the school denied his suit by claiming sovereign immunity.
However, this law it is not as strict as it sounds. Government officials do have extra security in lawsuits, but they are not completely immune. As sovereign immunity law states, “officers in their official capacities are under sovereign immunity,” therefore, government officials acting outside of official capacities can be held liable for personal injury claims. If a teacher, government official, or other state of Georgia worker were to injure another person in a car accident, they could be held liable in a personal injury claim. However, government officials who accidentally cause harm to others while “on the job” would likely be covered by sovereign immunity under Gerogia law.
What Can I Do If I’m Injured by a Government Official?
The first thing you should do is contact an Atlanta personal injury attorney. A government official is not strictly free from lawsuits under sovereign immunity, and it is important that you contact a personal injury attorney to see if you have a case. There are special circumstances regarding school buses, school employees, and police officers that need to be taken into account by a personal injury lawyer on your behalf. Waivers for sovereign immunity exist, but it is vital that your story be heard by Kaleita Law Firm, LLC, P.C. as soon as possible so that you can discuss your situation and available options.
Call 888-665-7699 for a free case evaluation!