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What is the Georgia statute of limitations for personal injury

Most accident victims in Georgia have two years to file a personal injury lawsuit against a negligent party that harmed them. That’s because Georgia’s statute of limitations sets a two-year deadline for most personal injury cases. However, every case is unique, so you should consult a personal injury attorney to understand how the statute of limitations might affect your situation.

A statute of limitations is a law that sets a legal time limit during which a person can file a lawsuit after they were injured by someone else. Statutes of limitations differ by state and type of case. Once the statutory deadline for an accident expires, the injured individual loses their right to bring legal action in court to pursue compensation for their injuries.

What Is the Purpose of a Statute of Limitations?

A statute of limitations causes parties to promptly pursue legal action, encouraging them to gather evidence and seek a resolution without delay. This is important because as time passes, evidence that might be significant in a case becomes more difficult to collect. Physical evidence can get lost or deteriorate. Witnesses’ memories can fade, or the witnesses themselves can become unavailable either from moving or passing away. Limiting the time frame for filing a lawsuit helps ensure that relevant evidence is still accessible and reliable.

Statutes of limitations also provide legal certainty to both potential defendants and plaintiffs. Rather than live with the uncertainty of what could happen years later, litigants have a narrow window of time to focus on the particular legal dispute.

Finally, statutes of limitations help courts manage their caseloads efficiently by encouraging parties to resolve disputes in a timely manner. If parties could file at any time, the judicial system could become overwhelmed with lawsuits. Many of these lawsuits might ultimately get dismissed due to lack of evidence but could clog up the pipeline for years in the meantime.

What Types of Personal Injury Cases Does the Two-Year Deadline Apply To?

The statute of limitations’ two-year filing window applies to the following types of personal injury cases:

  • Car accidents
  • Truck accidents
  • Bicycle accidents
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Unsafe premises accidents
  • Wrongful death

While medical malpractice cases are also subject to a two-year deadline, a different statute governs those cases.

Can the Two-Year Deadline Be Extended?

Georgia provides for several exceptions to the two-year deadline. When an exception applies, the deadline “tolls” or pauses until the exception lifts. The main circumstances that can result in a tolling of the statutory period include:

  • Disability – If an accident victim is legally incompetent due to a disability, the two-year deadline pauses until their disability resolves.
  • Underage – A personal injury victim who is a minor at the time of the accident has two years to pursue a lawsuit after they turn 18.
  • Defendant out of state – If the defendant leaves the state, the two-year deadline pauses until they return.
  • Fraud – If the defendant prevents the victim from filing a lawsuit through fraud, the two-year deadline begins when the victim discovers the fraud.

What If the Personal Injury Claim Is Against a Government Agency?

If a state or local government agency or employee causes an accident, personal injury victims must comply with different rules and deadlines in seeking compensation.

If the at-fault party is a state government agency or employee, Georgia law requires the victim to first provide a notice of claim in writing within 12 months of the accident. The notice of claim must be mailed via certified mail, statutory overnight delivery with a return receipt, or delivered personally to the Risk Management Division of the Department of Administrative Services, with a copy mailed or delivered to the at-fault entity as well. The notice of claim must include the following:

  • The name of the at-fault state government entity
  • The time and place of the accident
  • The nature of the accident
  • The victim’s total losses
  • The negligent act or omission that caused the victim’s losses

If the at-fault entity is a county government agency or employee, Georgia law requires the victim to present their claim within 12 months of the accident.

Certain cities in Georgia may also stipulate unique processes for filing a personal injury claim. It is important to consult an experienced attorney who understands Georgia’s laws and policies on suing government entities.

If you try to file a lawsuit without first providing the required notice of the claim, the government entity will almost surely file a motion to dismiss the case – and the court will likely side with the government.

After you file a notice of claim, the government entity will investigate your claim and determine whether to settle or deny it. If the government denies your claim, you can then file a lawsuit with the appropriate court.

What Happens If You Miss the Deadline for Filing Your Claim?

If you try to file a personal injury lawsuit after the statutory period has expired, the court will likely dismiss your case without considering its merits. By missing the two-year deadline, you forfeit your right to seek legal action against the at-fault party. That is why acting promptly and consulting an attorney after you’ve been injured by someone else’s wrongdoing is essential. A lawyer can ensure you comply with the legal deadlines and protect your right to pursue justice.

Contact a Georgia Personal Injury Lawyer

Statutes of limitations are important. But navigating the deadlines they stipulate can be perplexing for anyone dealing with a potential injury claim. A skilled attorney can be your clarity in this confusing landscape.

At Kevin A. Adamson, P.C., our attorneys possess in-depth knowledge of Georgia’s statutes of limitations and the exceptions that might apply to extend the deadlines in certain situations. When you work with our experienced lawyers, you can rest assured your case will be handled diligently and promptly without the risk of missing crucial filing dates.

Contact Kevin A. Adamson, P.C. today to speak with one of our Georgia personal injury attorneys.