Sovereign Immunity Georgia Municipalities

In Georgia, municipalities are protected by sovereign immunity; the legislature alone may waive it. Ga. Const. of 1983, Art. IX, Sec. II, Par. IX; OCGA 36-33-1 (a); CSX Transp. v. Garden City, 277 Ga. 248, 249 (1) (588 SE2d 688) (2003). Following important changes made in 2002 to several Code sections of the relevant law, municipal immunity may be waived by the purchase of liability insurance in only three situations: (1) as provided in OCGA 33-24-51 - where the insurance covers "the negligence of any duly authorized officer, agent, servant, attorney, or employee" that causes damages "arising by reason of ownership, maintenance, operation, or use of any motor vehicle by the municipal corporation"; (2) as provided in OCGA 36-92-2 where the insurance covers losses arising from "the negligent use of a covered motor vehicle"; (3) where "the policy of insurance issued covers an occurrence for which the defense of sovereign immunity is available, and then only to the extent of the limits of such insurance policy." OCGA 36-33-1 (a). See also Ga. L. 2002, p. 579. Similar to the limitation in the last scenario, under the first two scenarios, the waiver of municipal immunity is limited to the amount of coverage provided. See OCGA 33-24-51 (b); 36-92-2 (b) & (d). See also CSX Transp., 277 Ga. at 250 (1) n. 3.