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Statute of Limitations for Personal Injuries in Georgia

Statute of Limitations for Personal Injuries in Georgia

Accidents happen all the time. In many of them, people are injured. If you are injured, to recover compensation for your injury, you must file a lawsuit before a legal deadline. The deadline is called the statute of limitations. If you don’t file in time, your case will be dismissed. For that reason, you should retain a conscientious, experienced Atlanta personal injury lawyer to represent you when filing a suit for personal injuries. Attorney A. Bryan Baer, who founded The Baer Law Firm, can make sure that you file your lawsuit on time.

Mr. Baer has practiced law in Georgia since 2003. He first worked with insurance companies to learn how defense lawyers operate, then began representing injured people in 2011. In 2020, Mr. Baer struck out on his own to fight for people suffering personal injuries. Other lawyers have recognized him by voting for him as one of Georgia’s Super Lawyers® , since 2010, first as a young Rising Star℠ and then as a full-fledged member of the prestigious group. Mr. Baer is an Atlanta personal injury lawyer who’s also was admitted to membership in Million Dollar Advocates Forum, open only to attorneys who have obtained over $1,000,000 for a client.

The Default Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury in Georgia

Absent other circumstances, the statute of limitations for personal injuries, such as from a car wreck or otherwise, is two years in Georgia. What that means is that you must actually file a lawsuit within two years of the date you were injured. Unless an exception applies, then your case will be dismissed if you file too late. You will be forever barred from seeking recovery for your personal injuries.

Just because you have two years to file a lawsuit, does not mean you should delay calling a lawyer.  Even in the simplest case, lawyers typically need months of lead time to investigate your case, obtain relevant medical records and bills, locate the at-fault party to get him personally served, etc. before filing suit.  If you wait until just a few months before the statute expires to contact a lawyer, you might find no lawyer will take your case.   Furthermore, failing to call a lawyer shortly after suffering an injury may jeopardize your case in ways you would not expect.  Needed evidence may be lost.  Proper parties and insurers may not be put on notice.  In short, if you have been seriously injured due to the fault of another, get a good lawyer on your side as soon as possible!

Statute of Limitations Tolling Exceptions

Sometimes, the deadline for filing a personal injury lawsuit can be extended to more than two years. When this happens, it is called “tolling” the statute of limitations. There are a number of tolling exceptions to the running of the statute, but these are the more common ones.

  • If you are not yet 18 years old when you get hurt, the statute of limitations will not begin to run until your 18th
  • If you are legally incompetent because of intellectual disability or mental illness at the time of the accident, or become legally incompetent within two years after the accident through no fault of your own, then the statute of limitations is tolled until such time as you regain competence.
  • If the person who hurt you is  prosecuted for a crime arising out of the accident, such as driving under the influence, the two-year statute of limitations is tolled “until the prosecution of such crime or act has become final or otherwise terminated,” except that the ultimate deadline for filing suit becomes six years from the date of the accident.
  • If the accident resulted in death, then the time between the person’s death and the commencement of representation of the person’s estate is not counted, provided that period of time is no more than five years.  However, this exception is only for damages that the estate could recover such as medical bills between the time of injury and death, it does not toll time to bring claim for the actual loss of the life of a family member.

Act Swiftly When Suing Government Entities

Georgia law, like the laws of many other states, requires an injured person to give notice to a government entity if the person plans to sue that entity for personal injuries. Although technically, these deadlines are not a statute of limitations, the effect is the same: If you don’t give notice of your claim within the time period, then your claim is barred. Two of the most common time limits are six months when bringing a claim against city and twelve months when against a county or state.

Strategize With Counsel Over When To File

The emphasis in this article has been on filing a lawsuit promptly to avoid the running of the statute of limitations. Having said that, the law does give a person two years from the date of the accident or injury to file. An injured person should consult with counsel soon after the accident. To develop a personal injury case properly takes time, so the sooner a person sees a lawyer, the better.

Before filing suit, your lawyer will want to make sure that you have healed to the extent possible so that the lawyer can recover the greatest possible amount of damages for you. It would do you no good to file, then settle your case after six months, if new injuries from the accident emerged after a year. The lawyer will also want to develop and document your case property by gathering evidence and consulting with your doctors.

To avoid the statute of limitations running, you should consult an attorney soon after an accident. You should interview an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as you can so that the attorney will have time to develop your case fully well before the statutory deadline to file suit.