Although it lasts only a moment, a car crash is a scary experience that often has consequences that can affect victims for weeks, months, and years to come. In addition to the physical and emotional healing that has to occur, victims often also have to deal with legal and insurance issues that result from the accident.
Though it can be frustrating—even overwhelming—to address those matters while still recovering from an accident, state laws and insurance company policy provisions establish time limits for victims to make their claims. These time limits seek to promote timely filings and eliminate the threat of litigation to the involved parties after some substantial amount of time. Victims must be mindful of these timeframes to ensure they can obtain the compensation they deserve after a car accident.
How Does a Statute of Limitation Apply to Georgia Car Accident Cases?
Legal statutes of limitation specify how long a victim has to file a lawsuit against the responsible party. In Georgia, statutes of limitation can vary, depending on the nature of the case. For car accident cases, victims typically have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. For claims against counties, cities, or the State of Georgia, there are also time limitations within which you must provide notice to of your claim in order to maintain your right to file suit within the two year statute of limitation. The notice requirement for claims against these entities are as follows:
- Georgia counties: Victims are required to present their claims within 12 months of their injury.
- Georgia cities: Claims against a city require written notice within 6 months of the date of injury. The notice must specify the time, place, and extent of the injury, as well as the negligence which caused the injury.
- State of Georgia: Notice of a claim must be provided in writing within 12 months of injury, and sent by certified mail or statutory overnight delivery, return receipt requested, or delivered personally to and a receipt obtained from the Risk Management Division of the Department of Administrative Services.
It is essential to meet these deadlines. Typically, the court will refuse to hear your claim if it is filed outside the statute of limitation or you fail to meet the notice requirement if your claim is against a government entity, eliminating any chance you may have of obtaining justice or compensation.
Insurance Companies Have Their Own Deadlines After an Accident
In addition to strictly legal considerations, insurance companies often have their own rules about how and when to file a claim. This can be true for both medical insurance and auto insurance companies. Many car insurance companies require notification within 24 hours of the accident.
Though Georgia is a fault state, meaning victims can pursue compensation from the at-fault party’s insurance company, some additional factors to consider after your accident:
- Vehicle damage. Opposing insurance companies will typically dispute auto accident claims as much as possible. However, if your vehicle was significantly damaged in the accident, you may need a rental car or a company to authorize repairs; your own insurance company may be able to do this for you while you are waiting on the responsible party.
- Uninsured motorists. If the party responsible for your accident does not have adequate insurance coverage, you may be forced to file a claim with your own insurance company. You should notify your insurance company as soon as possible following an accident of a potential uninsured motorist claim.
- Medical expenses. Medical care is expensive, and the bills can begin to pile up quickly. Notifying your insurance company quickly may help offset some of the costs and help you avoid mounting debt.
Act Quickly to Achieve the Most Favorable Outcome
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, pursuing legal action as quickly as possible will give you the best chance at success. Even though it may be difficult and overwhelming to consider your legal options while still recovering from the physical and emotional wounds of the accident, it is necessary. The sooner you retain representation and file a claim, the more evidence can be collected and preserved. It can be more difficult to demonstrate to the court that you deserve compensation for your injuries as time passes. Swift action also ensures your claim is filed within the statute of limitations and can be heard by the court if necessary.
If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in a Georgia car accident, don’t wait to seek legal help. Call the Atlanta law office of Rechtman & Spevak today at 888-522-7798 to learn more about your rights and schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.