When our clients ask us how they have to file their accident claim, we always respond with – which one? Many of them look at us in confusion. This is because there are two types of accident claims. The first claim is the one you have to file with the insurance company. The second claim is the legal claim you’ll file with the court. Any car accident attorney in Carrollton knows there’s a big difference between the two.
As far as your legal claim, or lawsuit, you have up to two years to file suit. This is per the Georgia statute of limitations. Now, if you’re wondering how long you have to file an insurance claim, the answer isn’t so clear-cut.
Here, we’ll talk about how long you have to file both types of claims. Ideally, your claim will be paid by the insurance company, and you won’t need to hire a car accident attorney in Carrollton and file a lawsuit. But if that doesn’t happen, at least you’ll be prepared.
The Insurance Company Requires That You File Your Claim Within a Reasonable Time
One of the most frustrating things about insurance companies is that they are intentionally vague. Rather than come right out and say you have “X” number of days to file your accident claim, they use words like “reasonable.” The problem with this is that it leaves the door wide open for them to say you didn’t file your claim in time.
What is reasonable to one person may be unreasonable to another. This is why any car accident attorney in Carrollton always advises clients to file it immediately. Ideally, you’ll be able to file your claim on the same day as your accident. If this isn’t possible, you’ll want to get it filed within a day or two. This way, you don’t risk having your claim denied for being late.
Your Car Accident Attorney in Carrollton Must File Your Lawsuit Within 2 Years
While the deadline for filing your insurance claim may be vague, there’s nothing vague about the Georgia statute of limitations. In Georgia, you have 2 years to the day to file your lawsuit. The 2 years start on the day of your accident. It doesn’t start the day your insurance claim is denied. It doesn’t start when you hire your car accident attorney in Carrollton. If you are one day late – your case will be dismissed.
For some reason, a lot of accident victims wait until the last minute to file their lawsuits. They wait until there are a few weeks left under the statute period to call us. They don’t realize that it takes time to prepare a car accident lawsuit. We need to look at the evidence and talk to witnesses. We need to find out what the defendant’s position is, so we have an idea of what approach to take. This isn’t something we can do in a matter of weeks.
Why Is the Statute of Limitations Period 2 Years in Georgia?
It can be difficult to understand why the courts only give people 2 years to file suit. It seems like a long time at first. However, once the insurance company takes time to make its decision, it can be months. For plaintiffs who need extensive medical care, it could be more than a year before they’re out of the woods.
The reason the courts impose a 2-year deadline for personal injury lawsuits is that they feel it is fair to both parties. In all honesty, if a car accident victim doesn’t hire a car accident attorney in Carrollton and file suit within 2 years, it’s fair for the defendant to presume that they aren’t suing. After all, if someone plans on suing someone, why would they wait 2 years to do it?
The courts don’t think it’s fair to surprise a defendant with a lawsuit 3 or 4 years after an accident. By then, evidence has become stale. Witnesses have disappeared. For all you know, the insurance company may have closed its doors by that point. If that’s the case, the defendant, who would’ve been covered by their insurance policy, will now be on the hook for your damages. In the courts’ eyes, this isn’t fair.
Another reason why the courts impose this deadline is that they don’t want old cases clogging their court docket. Judges are busy people. Things have only gotten worse with the COVID-19 pandemic causing a huge backlog. The last thing the judges want to see is a 3- or 4-year-old case appear on their calendar.
What Happens if You Miss the Statute of Limitations Deadline?
For some reason, many people who hire a car accident attorney in Carrollton assume the courts are forgiving when it comes to the statute of limitations. The statute is very clear. If you miss it – by even one day – your case will be dismissed. It’s not even something that the defendant needs to bring up. The court will typically reject your pleadings right away.
There are very few exceptions to this rule. They include:
- The plaintiff was a minor at the time of the accident. If this is the case, the 2 years will start the day they turn eighteen.
- The defendant has committed fraud in an effort to avoid service of the complaint.
- The plaintiff is mentally incompetent and cannot legally sue somebody.
If you don’t meet any of the above exceptions, then your case will be dismissed. If this happens, you will not have the right to refile it later. You will walk away with nothing and no further recourse against the other driver.
Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney in Carrollton
If you or your loved one is injured in a car crash, you only have a certain amount of time to file your claim. Whether it’s the insurance claim or your personal injury lawsuit, the deadlines are critically important. If you miss them, you will not be able to collect damages.
There are no excuses for missing the filing deadlines. Thankfully, if you retain the services of a skilled personal injury attorney in Carrollton, you won’t have to worry about this. They know what the filing deadlines are, and they will make sure your claim is filed in time.
Of course, your car accident attorney in Carrollton can only work with the circumstances surrounding your case. If you come to them after the filing deadline has passed, they won’t be able to help you. They can’t change the law. This is why we recommend that you call a seasoned car accident attorney in Carrollton immediately following your accident.