The first thing you think of after a bad wreck is the extent of your injuries and your loved ones. It isn’t filing an insurance claim, negotiating a settlement, or filing a lawsuit.
A car accident can alter your life indefinitely. Just because your life may be devastated doesn’t mean you’ll be treated fairly or offered a just settlement.
Sometimes, the only way to regain some semblance of your old life is to file a claim against the other driver’s insurance company. Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done. If your insurance claim doesn’t lead to a fair settlement, you may need to file a civil lawsuit to receive the compensation you deserve.
The judicial system is a complex and confusing entity that only trained professionals can easily traverse. The rest of us may risk using Google for our legal decisions unless we hire an experienced car accident attorney.
The statute of limitations is one thing that can confuse weary accident victims. Failure to meet it can destroy your whole case. Attorneys are familiar with Georgia’s statute of limitations and can ensure your case is on schedule.
What is the Statute of Limitations?
The statute of limitations is the deadline for filing a lawsuit. It varies across jurisdictions and types of cases. The statute of limitations for a car accident claim in Georgia is two years (Georgia Code 9.3.33).
Statutes of limitations are laws that limit when injury victims can file lawsuits against an at-fault party. The timeframe can vary depending on the type of civil claim and who is involved. It’s advisable to consult with a legal professional to ensure your case is filed within the window of opportunity established by Georgia statutes and everything is done on time.
Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations in Georgia
There are exceptions to the statute of limitations for car accident claims.
There are certain circumstances under which the courts will extend the deadline or make exceptions:
Discovery of injuries: If injuries resulting from the car accident were not immediately apparent, the court might extend the statute and allow a later filing.
The two-year filing countdown typically starts when the victim discovers or should have reasonably discovered the injuries.
Minors: If the person involved in the car accident was a minor (under 18) at the time of the accident, the court may pause the statute of limitations until they reach 18.
Insufficient mental capacity: If the injured party lacks the mental capacity to understand their legal rights and pursue a claim, the statute of limitations may be tolled until they regain mental ability.
Defendant’s absence from the state: If the at-fault driver leaves Georgia and cannot be served with legal papers, the statute of limitations may be tolled during their absence. This means the time they are out of the state would not count towards the two-year limit.
Government entities: If a government entity or employee is involved in the accident, special rules and shorter notice requirements may apply. You may have a limited time to provide notice before the statute of limitations begins.
Consult with an attorney in personal injury law if you believe you have a car accident claim in Georgia and are concerned about the statute of limitations.
An attorney can assess your situation, advise whether any exceptions apply, and help you take appropriate legal action within the required timeframe.
How Does Fault Affect a Car Accident Case in Georgia?
Many states adhere to a no-fault system for car accidents, meaning an injured person’s own insurance covers losses after a crash, regardless of who caused it.
Georgia is different because it follows a traditional fault-based system, meaning the person at fault can be on the financial hook for other people’s injuries and damages. The at-fault driver’s insurance company will ideally cover other people’s losses up to the liability coverage limits.
What Type of Personal Injury Losses Can You Request Under Georgia Law?
Georgia law allows car accident victims to recover several types of losses from a party who is found responsible for causing the accident. The court categorizes these losses as economic and non-economic damages. However, if you miss your filing deadline under Georgia’s statute of limitations, you may not recover any of the losses that were available.
Here’s a basic breakdown of the personal injury damages you might request under Georgia law:
Economic Damages: tangible financial losses
Medical expenses: Costs associated with medical treatment and care.
Lost wages: Compensation for income lost due.
Property damage: Reimbursement for damage to property.
Rehabilitation costs: Expenses for therapy and rehabilitation.
Out-of-pocket expenses: Accident-related costs like transportation to medical appointments and home modifications needed to accommodate your injuries.
Non-economic Damages: intangible financial losses
Pain and suffering: Compensation for physical and emotional pain.
Emotional distress: Damages for psychological trauma and stress.
Loss of consortium: Compensation for impact on relationships.
Loss of enjoyment: Compensation for the loss of activities you enjoy.
Scarring and disfigurement: Damages for visible injuries.
Punitive damages: Awarded in extreme cases to punish the at-fault party.
Depending on the case’s specific circumstances and Georgia law, these damages can vary in availability and amount.
Consulting with a personal injury attorney is necessary to better understand the potential compensation you may be entitled to.
What If You Miss the Statute of Limitations Deadline in Georgia?
Suppose you miss the statute of limitations for a car accident lawsuit in Georgia. In that case, you may lose your legal right to recover compensation for your injuries and damages related to the accident.
Here are some critical points to consider if you miss it:
Loss of legal rights: Once the statute of limitations expires, you generally lose your ability to file a lawsuit related to a car accident. If you file after the deadline, the at-fault party will likely use this as a defense to have your case dismissed.
Inability to seek compensation: Missing the statute of limitations means you won’t be able to seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages from the accident.
Exceptions and tolling: In some cases, there may be exceptions or circumstances that can toll the statute of limitations. Ask an experienced personal injury lawyer about your unique circumstances to see if any exceptions apply to your case.
If you believe you have a valid car accident claim but are concerned about missing the statute of limitations, it’s crucial to consult with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can evaluate your case, assess whether any exceptions apply, and determine if there are any grounds to extend the deadline.
What Questions Should I Ask a Lawyer About the Statute of Limitations?
When consulting with a prospective lawyer about the statute of limitations and your accident, you should ask questions to understand your rights and legal process better.
Here are some questions to consider asking:
What is the statute of limitations for my case?
Start by confirming the specific time limit that applies to your case.
When does the statute of limitations begin to run in my case?
Understanding the starting point of the statute of limitations is crucial. It usually starts from the accident date, but there may be exceptions, such as discovering injuries later.
Are there any exceptions or tolling provisions that apply to my situation?
Ask the lawyer if circumstances might extend or pause the statute of limitations, such as delayed injury discovery, being a minor at the time of the accident, or the defendant’s absence from the state.
What happens if I miss the statute of limitations?
Get a clear explanation of the consequences of missing the deadline and how it affects your ability to pursue a claim.
Can you help me gather and preserve evidence for my case?
Inquire about the lawyer’s role in collecting and preserving crucial evidence to support and file your claim within the statute of limitations.
What is the process for filing a lawsuit within the statute of limitations?
Ask the lawyer to explain the steps in initiating a case within the prescribed timeframe, including drafting and filing legal documents and serving notice to the opposing party.
How can you help me negotiate a settlement within the statute of limitations?
If a settlement is possible, discuss the lawyer’s experience dealing with insurance companies in similar situations to resolve the matter promptly.
Do you have experience with car accident cases like mine?
Ensure that the lawyer has experience handling cases like yours and with the specific legal requirements and nuances.
How will you keep me informed about the progress of my case and any approaching deadlines?
Understand the lawyer’s communication process and how they plan to update you on important dates and developments.
What is your fee structure, and when must I engage your services to meet the statute of limitations?
Discuss the lawyer’s fees, including whether they work on a contingency basis (only getting paid if you win the case) and when you should retain their services to meet the statute of limitations.
Can you provide references or case examples where you successfully resolved car accident claims?
Request examples of their experience in handling similar cases.
These questions will help you gauge the lawyer’s knowledge and expertise in dealing with the statute of limitations in car accident claims and give you confidence in their ability to handle your case effectively within the legal timeframe.
You Don’t Have to Figure It Out Alone
Don’t let sophisticated legal terms intimidate you; Atlanta Personal Injury Group has your back! Call our Atlanta office at (833) 285-9467 to discuss your options.