Statute of Limitations – Why Do I Only Have Two Years to File a Lawsuit After a Georgia Car Accident?

November 12, 2020

If you’ve suffered injuries in a Georgia car accident and you intend to seek compensation from the at-fault party, you don’t have any time to waste. As is the case in other states, you only have a limited time within which you can file a lawsuit, a situation known as the statute of limitations. Even if you hope to settle your case through negotiation rather than litigation, acting promptly gives you leverage. If you do intend to file a lawsuit from the outset, the statute of limitations is even more important. It usually starts running on the date of your accident and if you don’t file your lawsuit in time, you lose the right to do so.

Typically, you have two years to file a personal injury lawsuit against an individual or a business. However, if your case is against a government entity, you may have a much shorter time. Some accident victims feel the statute of limitations is unfair but as you’ll see in this post, it can actually work in your favor.

Why Time Limits Are in Place

Statutes of limitations are generally in place to protect defendants and ensure that lawsuits are filed as soon as possible after an incident occurs. This helps to ensure that critical evidence remains available. As time goes on, memories fade and eyewitnesses move away or die. Even physical evidence like documents or photos may be destroyed or lost. As you can imagine, it would be very difficult to bring a successful lawsuit if you don’t have evidence to support your claims. That’s why the statute of limitations also protects victims.

The established time limits also prevent individuals from suing other people or entities just to harass them. A malicious individual could wait several years following an accident and then claim they suffered injuries for which they need to be compensated. It would be very difficult to prove such a claim and the case would likely be a waste of everyone’s time.

Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations

You need to consult a Georgia car accident lawyer to ensure you are aware of all the deadlines that apply to your case. There are only a few cases in which you may have more than two years to file your lawsuit. These exceptions allow for the statute of limitations to start at a later date or for it to be paused after it starts. For example, if the other party left Georgia before you could serve them with the necessary documents, the clock will start when they once again reside in the state.

Meanwhile, victims under the age of 18 or those deemed legally incompetent on the basis of mental illness or intellectual disability at the time of the accident also have a longer time to file.  The two-year period starts when the victim turns 18 or they are declared legally competent. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your case, there may be other exceptions that apply.  However, you should seek legal advice instead of making assumptions.

Why It’s Important to Contact a Lawyer Promptly

Many accident victims take a long time to contact a lawyer. However, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible after an accident caused by someone else’s negligence. Even if you don’t think you’ll have to file a lawsuit, you should seek professional advice. The last thing you want is to contact an attorney at the last minute and then find out that they won’t take your case. Since lawyers need time to investigate and build a solid case, they typically don’t take cases if the statute of limitations is set to expire in six months or less.

Notably, even if you want to negotiate a settlement with the insurance company, a statute of limitations that’s nearing expiration or already expired will cause problems. If you haven’t yet reached a settlement and the insurer is playing hardball, you can’t threaten to take them to court. It’s important that you contact a lawyer at the earliest opportunity if you want the opportunity to get fair compensation.

Contact Joe Durham Jr. P.C. for Help with Your Car Accident Case

Let the Georgia car accident attorneys at our firm help you to get the compensation you deserve. Call us as soon as you can so we can look into your case, secure the evidence, and provide you with expert advice that you need. Your first consultation is free, so you have nothing to lose by calling us.