Shanta Greene’s cousin and his young son picked Ms. Greene up from her job as assistant manager at a Wendy’s restaurant in July 2010. As they drove along Bee Road and 42nd Street, a tree limb broke lose and landed on top of the truck. The limb crushed the passenger side where Ms. Greene was seated. She suffered brain damage and injuries to her leg and pelvis, requiring amputation. Her cousin and his son sustained less serious injuries.
Ms. Greene sued Savannah, alleging that the city should have known about the damaged tree. In particular, the city should have repaired the defect when the tree dropped a limb in 2007. The city countered that the tragic event was an act of God.
Filing a personal injury claim against the government is different from suing a private person or entity. Generally, the city is given immunity from lawsuits, but the plaintiff has the right to pursue a cause of action. A plaintiff who fails to follow the stringent procedures loses the right to sue. The process for suing the city involves the following:
The plaintiff must file a notice of claim by the deadline.
The city either denies or accepts the claim.
If the city denies the claim, the plaintiff has the right to sue.
Ms. Greene successfully brought her case to trial and a jury awarded her $12 million. Initially the Savannah City Council denied Ms. Greene’s claim and filed an appeal. However, at the end of 2013, the city finally agreed to a $9.5 million settlement. Ms. Green’s cousin was awarded $20,000 and her nephew received $10,000 for their injuries.
If you were injured on public property — including a park, a street or a municipal building — you need to act quickly to preserve your claim.