If you were injured within the State of Georgia due to someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing, you may have the right to file a personal injury claim and request compensation for your medical expenses, pain and suffering, and more. In order to find out what your rights and options are, you should discuss your case with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
No matter how your injury occurred, time is of the essence, as in Georgia, civil actions related to personal injury are subject to a strict statute of limitations. Waiting too long could cost you your compensation.
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What is a Statute of Limitations?
Every state has its own laws that tell you how long you have to file a lawsuit. Usually, this runs anywhere from two (2) to four (4) years. The statute gives a different time frame for each type of lawsuit. So, there may be one deadline for a personal injury case and another for a wrongful death claim.
If you don’t file your lawsuit before the statute of limitations period runs, your lawsuit will be barred. This means that you can never file suit again for that cause of action. For car accidents in Georgia, the statute of limitations is four (4) years.
The four years starts running on the date of your accident. It doesn’t start when you realize you’re injured. Since you have plenty of time to file your suit, you may be tempted to wait to call a lawyer. This could be a big mistake.
Yes, you do have four (4) years to file your lawsuit. However, the more time goes by, the harder it will be to prove your case. But you also don’t want to file it so quickly that you don’t know just how bad your damages were.
This is why you need a lawyer. Your Georgia car wreck lawyer knows when the right time is to file your suit.
Important Aspects of Filing a Personal Injury Claim
The more time passes before contacting a lawyer, the more difficult to prove the case will be – All personal injury claims have to rely on solid evidence that proves how the injuries occurred, who was at fault for them, and what the consequences were. The evidence can consist of photos and video recordings, witness testimonies, police reports, medical reports, and more.
These are usually easier to obtain immediately after the incident than after several months have passed and they have been archived, lost, forgotten, or, worse, destroyed. A lawyer who starts early on the case will wait to obtain all the necessary evidence, conduct their own investigations, and only take action when they know they can win. One who takes over the case at the last minute will not have time to conduct further investigations, obtain expert testimonies, or use other strategies that could help them win the case.
The two years allowed by the Georgia statute of limitations for personal injury claims start running at the date of the injury or at the discovery date – According to GA Code § 9-3-33 (2017), the statute of limitations for personal injury actions is of two years from when the plaintiff accrues their right of action. This could mean two years from the injury date for cases where the injury was obvious immediately, or two years from the discovery date, for injuries that became obvious after a longer time period.
Georgia is one of the states following the “discovery rule”, which means that the courts accept the possibility for an injury to be discovered later or allow for a reasonable time period in which the injury should be discovered. It goes without saying that those filing a personal injury claim after two years from the injury date have passed will have to prove that they discovered their injury later.
An injury lawyer can help plaintiffs increase their odds of having their claims accepted and of obtaining the compensation they deserve.
Will The Statute Of Limitations Be Extended?
There are very few situations in which the court will extend the statute of limitations. One of these exceptions is when the defendant leaves the state for more than two (2) years. If the defendant is intentionally avoiding the lawsuit, it can’t be held against you.
Another time the court may extend the statute of limitations is when you were in such bad health that you couldn’t be expected to prepare your case. If the accident left you in a coma, for example, the statute may be extended.
Your Georgia car accident lawyer will have to apply for this extension. It isn’t going to be granted automatically. Nor will the court apply it retroactively.
What Happens if You Miss the Deadline?
If you don’t file your suit before the four (4) year deadline, it will be forever barred. There are almost no exceptions to this rule. The judge is not going to extend this deadline. There is no good reason why you shouldn’t be able to file your claim at some point in the four years.
Some reasons why it may take you longer than normal to file suit are:
- You didn’t realize how bad your injuries were
- You were in such bad shape physically that you weren’t able to file suit
- You didn’t retain a Georgia car wreck lawyer soon enough
- You weren’t sure how long you had to sue
Just reading these, you can imagine how bad all of these excuses sound to a judge. At some point in four years, you need to file your claim. Some states only give you two (2) years. There’s really no excuse for needing more than four years to file suit.
Your attorney knows that the judge won’t grant an extension. This would be unfair. You can’t expect a defendant to sit and wait for more than four years wondering if you’re going to sue. It can also make a defense lawyer’s job impossible if you made them wait years to file your claim.
It’s hard enough to gather evidence when a case is fresh. It gets very difficult when you have to go back for more than four years to find proof.
Call a Georgia Injury Lawyer Today
The best way to clear all doubts regarding the statute of limitations for your personal injury claim and to find out how much time you have left to take action is to consult a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. They will analyze your case details, look at the evidence you have available, and advise you on the steps to follow and the available period.
You can find the experienced and dedicated lawyer you need at John B. Jackson & Associates. Contact us today to schedule a Free Consultation.