How Long Do I Have to File a Personal Injury Claim in Georgia?
Personal injuries caused by another individual’s negligent actions can leave you with extensive medical bills, long-term pain, and other losses. Through a personal injury lawsuit, you may be able to recover both economic and non-economic damages from those responsible for your injuries. However, the window during which you can take legal action against the liable party is strictly limited by state law. This law is known as a statute of limitations.
It is vital to safeguard your legal rights to seek justice after a harmful accident. Failure to file within the statute of limitations can render your claim void and prevent you from pursuing financial compensation. By consulting a knowledgeable Georgia personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after your accident, you can ensure that you fully understand how the state’s statute of limitations impacts your case. Your legal team can gather the evidence needed to build a robust case while making certain you meet all necessary filing deadlines.
Why Do States Impose a Deadline on Filing Personal Injury Claims?
Every state has its own laws governing the length of time in which an injured individual can file a claim for damages. While it may feel frustrating and stressful to have a time limit on your case, the legal system has determined that it is necessary to impose these rules. As time passes, constructing a case or presenting a defense to claims becomes significantly more challenging. Evidence is often destroyed or lost, witnesses cannot be found or forget critical details, and the circumstances of the situation may become muddy. Statutes of limitations exist to protect would-be defendants from potentially unfair conditions and prevent the court system from getting bogged down in older claims that are incredibly difficult to resolve adequately.
What Is Georgia’s Statute of Limitations on Personal Injury Claims?
Under OCGA § 9-3-33, most actions for injuries to the person must be commenced within two years of the incident. While this may seem like a long time, it can pass quickly as you work on your physical recovery and try to get your life back in order after your accident. It’s also important to remember that strong cases require thorough investigation, which can take many months. For these reasons, taking prompt legal action is highly recommended.
In most cases, if you do not file your claim within the two-year window, it will be dismissed, and you will no longer be able to bring a lawsuit. This filing deadline applies to many common Georgia personal injury claims, including:
- Car, truck, and motorcycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Ridesharing accidents
- Slips and falls
- Defective product accidents
- Dog bites
- Medical malpractice
- Premises liability incidents
- Wrongful death
The statute also places a four-year limit on personal injury cases involving loss of consortium. “Loss of consortium” refers to an injury’s impact on your relationship with your spouse. If an accident has adversely affected your ability to provide care, companionship, or affection to your spouse, they could file a claim within four years against the liable party for damages related to these losses.
Do Any Exceptions Exist?
Even if you believe your claim may be beyond the statute of limitations, it is important to speak to a lawyer about your situation before assuming you are without legal recourse. Certain circumstances can result in a pause in the countdown for the statute of limitations. In legal terms, this is known as “tolling.”
For example, imagine if a child was a victim of medical malpractice. Although parents can file a lawsuit on their child’s behalf, a minor cannot take legal action for themselves. If no claim is filed for the injury by the minor’s parents, the statute of limitations may be tolled until the child turns 18 and becomes eligible to bring a lawsuit. Upon their 18th birthday, the countdown for the statute of limitations begins, and they will generally have two years to start legal proceedings.
Other rare situations can also cause an extension in the filing deadline, so discussing your claim with an experienced lawyer is crucial to understanding your legal options. Cases involving tolling can be complex, and it is critical to have an advocate who can guide you through the process.
Could Other Deadlines Apply to Your Claim?
The rules for filing a personal injury claim in Georgia can be intricate and confusing, and the statute of limitations may be just one of many important deadlines you must meet. For instance, specific filing rules apply if the defendant is a government entity. You may be required to file a detailed notice with the relevant government agency of your intent to bring a claim within as little as six months of the accident. If you miss this little-known deadline, it could invalidate your claim.
Navigating this web of rules and regulations can be overwhelming, especially when trying to heal and handle the day-to-day challenges of your post-accident life. A skilled lawyer can remove the stress of filing a personal injury claim by ensuring your case complies with all applicable state laws and deadlines.
Why Contact Our Experienced Law Firm Today?
Personal injuries are often costly in terms of the expenses victims accrue and the pain and suffering they and their loved ones experience. A personal injury claim can play an essential role in helping you reach a full recovery and regain your financial footing following your injury. However, you must file your lawsuit within Georgia’s strict statute of limitations, or you could lose your chance to recover damages.
Our compassionate attorneys at Sessoms Law Group can help you understand the laws that apply to your unique case. We can address any questions you may have about the statute of limitations and other issues that could affect the length of time you have to file. Contact our law office today to schedule a free case evaluation: 678-853-7402.