Statute of Limitations and Other Deadlines in Georgia Injury Cases


October 07, 2010

When a person is seriously injured, it can mean medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, as well as enormous stress and financial hardship. A person whose injuries are related to an accident or intentional actions of another may have a claim for compensation for their injuries. If you have been injured, it is important that you seek immediate legal advice, because legal time deadlines apply to all cases.  Additionally, it is more challenging and sometimes impossible to obtain evidence and help from witnesses if you delay. The time limits that govern when a lawsuit must be filed are called "statutes of limitations." Courts almost never forgive the failure to file a lawsuit before a statute of limitations expires.

The statute of limitations for personal injury claims in Georgia is generally two years from the date of injury, but there are many exceptions.  Additionally, the rules can be confusing to apply and depend on the unique facts of each case, so it is critical to seek legal advice as soon as possible. For example, sometimes the time limitation can be much shorter- such as when a government entity is involved, and in some situations it can be longer. And every states' laws are different- some are shorter and some are longer.  Sometimes insurance companies will string a person along- hoping that they will wait too long to take action and lose the right to bring their claim.  Additionally, other time deadlines can apply- such as notification requirements in insurance policies.  If you or someone you love has been injured, call Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, for a free consultation as soon as possible so that you do not risk missing the statute of limitations or other critical filing deadlines, and so that all other actions that might be required or helpful to protect your rights can be taken.

Failure to file a lawsuit or take other required action within the statute of limitations is usually an absolute bar to bringing a legal action, so it is essential that all requirements be met.  As noted above, in a personal injury case in Georgia, the statute of limitations in most situations is two years, subject to exceptions, but it can be complicated determining when that time begins.  Additionally, the time is sometimes "tolled," which means it is suspended. Some specific examples of these complications are provided below, but remember, this is only a very general summary of the law- the unique circumstances of your situation should be analyzed by an experienced Georgia Injury Lawyer:

Disabilities: Minors, mentally incompetent, insane or imprisoned persons have the standard statute of limitations but it does not commence until the person is no longer under a disability.  So for example, for a minor, it doesn't start to run until they become 18 years old.

Criminal Acts: Georgia has a special rule that applies in an injury case that results from the commission of a crime. The statute of limitations is tolled (suspended) for the period of time between the commission of the crime and the resolution of the criminal case. If a driver in an auto accident violates the Uniform Rules of the Road, the statute of limitations is extended until the traffic case is resolved. If a driver pays the fine 30 days after receiving a ticket for reckless driving, the statute of limitations is tolled 30 days. The same also is presumably true for injury cases like a physical attack with the statute of limitations being tolled from the offense until the criminal case is resolved up to a maximum extension of six years.

Georgia Wrongful Death Claims: The statute of limitations in a wrongful death case is two years from the date of death. If there is no administrator of the estate at the time of death, the statute of limitations may be tolled up to five years prior to the two year period beginning.

Medical Malpractice: The statute of limitations is two years from the date of injury or death or no more than 5 years from discovery. There is significant nuance to the discovery rule so you should consult with a Georgia medical malpractice attorney immediately. Basically, the discovery rule provides that the period runs from the time the injured person knows or should have known of the injury and the causal connection between the injury and the negligent act.

Product Liability: The statute of limitations is two years but the discovery rule also applies or 1 year from the date of death. A five year limit applies regardless of discovery of the injury with narrow exceptions.

Uninsured Motorist Claim: The statute of limitations is two years after the motor vehicle accident.

Public Entity: The time limit for pursuing a claim against the government requires a special notice requirement. When pursuing a claim against the federal government under the Federal Tort Claims Act, an administrative claim must be filed within two years after the accident or injury. There are very specific procedural requirements so you should consult a qualified Georgia personal injury lawyer. Under Georgia law, there is also a special notice requirement that requires the notice be filed within six months against a city or twelve months against a county.

Workers' Compensation: A person has one year from the date of injury to file a workers' compensation claim. If you received medical treatment provided by the employer, a person has one year from the termination of treatment to file a claim. If an employee receives weekly income benefits, the employee has two years from the date of the last payment to file a claim. The rules are more complex for an occupational illness.

The issue of when the statute of limitations expires in a particular case can be extremely complex and confusing. The consequences of making a mistake regarding the amount of time within which you have to initiate a lawsuit usually means that you are forever precluded from seeking legal action. A person who is injured should always seek legal advice immediately to avoid statute of limitations and other timing limitation issues.  The Georgia personal injury lawyers at Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, have been representing injured people throughout the state of Georgia for over 25 years. We are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia including, but not limited to, Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Dalton, Gaineseville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities, towns and rural areas in the state. Call us today for your free consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333), or visit us on the web at www.montlick.com.  No matter where you are, we are just a phone call away and we will even come to you. 

Category: Personal Injury

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.