CKF’s Alwyn Fredericks Interviewed By WSB-TV Concerning Waiver of Government Immunity and Insurance Limits – “Not going to cut it.”
As part of a special investigative report conducted by WSB-TV and along with other attorneys who have faced a similar legal hurdle, Alwyn Fredericks and our clients were interviewed concerning the Georgia law that limits recoveries for victims of governmental negligence, specifically as it relates to motor vehicle collisions. Click here for WSB-TV’s report.
On January 31, 2016, Dorothy Wright was driving to church with her two grandchildren, Cameron Costner and Layla Partridge, when their vehicle was hit by a College Park Police vehicle that ran a stop sign during a high-speed chase of a car theft suspect. As a result of the collision and the officer’s negligence, Dorothy and her two grandchildren were tragically killed.
Under a 2010 Georgia law, O.C.G.A. § 36-92-2, immunity typically provided to governmental entities is waived up to certain limits as mandated by the statute. Relying on the statutory limits as specifically stated in the statute and despite purchasing additional insurance coverage well in excess of those stated limits, the City of College Park and its insurer, Atlantic Specialty take the position that its limits for the city’s and the police officer’s negligence in causing the subject crash are limited to $500,000 for an individual or $700,000 for a crash involving two or more victims. However, the statute also provides that the limits “shall be increased” to the extent that “the local government entity purchases commercial liability insurance in an amount in excess” of the limits set forth in the statute. While the trial court in our clients’ case correctly held that the limits as specifically stated in the statute do not apply as the City of College Park purchased insurance over and above those limits, the insurer for City of College Park, who has intervened in our case, has appealed the trial court’s order to the Georgia Court of Appeals in an effort to limit its exposure to the specific statutory limit of $700,000.
As a whole, the specific limits outlined in the dated statute are completely unfair and insufficient to compensate victims, like our clients, that have lost loved ones or suffered catastrophic injuries due to the negligence of government employees. The specific limits were put in place in an effort to protect government entities from having to pay just compensation to those that were killed or seriously injured as a result of the government’s negligence. Alwyn and CKF have responded to the appeal filed by the City of College Park and will continue to fight for our clients and the unfair limits as stated in the statute. As Alwyn told reporters in addressing the statutory limits, “When you have three dead people or someone who is catastrophically injured, that’s not enough. That’s not going to cut it.”