Trying to get your life back to normal—or adjust to a "new normal"—after a serious accident or injury can be exhausting and overwhelming.
People often spend much of their time and energy focusing on medical care and physical recovery, trying to get their damaged property repaired or replaced, and struggling to cope with the anxiety, stress, and other emotional trauma caused by the incident.
With so much going on, the last thing a personal injury victim may want is to file a lawsuit and become embroiled in a lengthy legal battle.
However, if you were hurt in a Georgia personal injury accident and wish to pursue a financial recovery, it's important to act quickly. State laws known as statutes of limitation strictly limit how long you have to file a lawsuit against someone whose negligence or carelessness caused your injuries and other losses.
Here's what you need to know about statutes of limitation and how they could affect your personal injury case.
Statutes of Limitation: Strict Legal Deadlines Carry Serious Consequences
In Georgia's civil court system, statutes of limitation determine just how long plaintiffs have to file a claim. Although these statutes can leave some personal injury victims feeling rushed, the timely legal actions ensured by these deadlines are designed to help both the plaintiff and defendant. Plaintiffs benefit from access to fresh evidence that helps prove their cases, and defendants don't have the threat of legal action hanging over them indefinitely.
The lawsuit filing deadlines established by Georgia statutes of limitation are extremely strict. Trying to file a lawsuit after the statute of limitations expired results in automatic dismissal of the case and forfeiture of the victim's right to seek a legal remedy for their losses.
Georgia Personal Injury Statutes of Limitation
The deadlines for filing personal injury cases vary by case type and whether the lawsuit is being brought against a private citizen, a business, or the government. Statutes of limitation for common types of Georgia personal injury cases are:
- General personal injury claims: two years
- Loss of consortium claims: four years (after the loss was discovered)
- Property damage claims: four years
- Wrongful death claims: two years
- Product liability: two years
Personal injury lawsuits against private citizens or businesses must be brought within two years. The clock starts ticking the day the accident or injury occurred. The deadlines for filing claims against city, county, state, or federal government agencies, can be even shorter. For example, claims against Georgia counties must be brought within 12 months, and claims against cities require written notice within six months. Lawsuits against the state must be filed within two years and preceded by the completion of special forms indicating the intent to sue.
In most cases, the statute of limitations is non-negotiable, and individuals who miss the filing deadline are barred from seeking compensation for their injuries and other damages. However, some notable exceptions can "toll"—or pause—personal injury statutes of limitation, including:
- The injured individual is a minor. If the victim was a child at the time of the accident or injury, the statute of limitations clock doesn't start until their 18th birthday.
- A person is mentally incompetent. If the victim is deemed mentally incompetent, the statutes of limitations don't begin unless or until they've regained their competency.
- The case involves a traffic ticket. Citations for traffic infractions such as speeding, running a red light, or failure to yield can provide vital proof of negligence in a personal injury claim. They also serve to extend the statute of limitations, since Georgia law tolls the statute until the citation is resolved.
- There wasn't opportunity for reasonable discovery. If there was no way for an injury or medical condition to be reasonably discovered within the specified time frame, the statutes of limitations may be extended.
Consult a Skilled Attorney About Your Case
Do you have questions about a Georgia personal injury case? Contact Rechtman & Spevak today to schedule an appointment for a free initial consultation with an experienced member of our legal team.