Mistakes Pro Se Litigants Make that Negatively Affect their Personal Injury Cases


February 04, 2014

Unfortunately, sometimes people do not realize why an attorney is helpful. In fact, some parties (known as pro se litigants) may try to handle their own personal injury claims, but the unforgiving nature of the civil litigation system can exact devastating consequences for non-compliance with time deadlines and procedural rules. The following are a few of the most common reasons why pro se litigants often face difficulties when choosing not to hire an attorney:

Failure to Adhere to the Statute of Limitations

This is one of the strictest and harshest of procedural rules that govern car accidents claims and other personal injury cases. The statute of limitations refers to the deadline within which a personal injury claim must be initiated. When a complaint is not filed within the period of the statute of limitations, the injury victim will almost always be permanently barred from filing a lawsuit for financial compensation. Compliance with the statute of limitations is imperative because a case cannot be initiated once the statute of limitations has expired even if liability is undisputed and the injuries are permanent and devastating.

Under Georgia law, the statute of limitations for negligence that causes injury to a person is generally two years from the date on which an injury or death arising from a negligent or wrongful act or omission occurred. O.C.G.A. § 9-3-31. However, the calculation of the statute of limitations can be complicated by rules that allow tolling (i.e. suspension) of the time in certain situations, such as injury to a minor or a person lacking mental competence. And shorter time deadlines apply in claims against government entities. Even if you think that the statute of limitations has run (i.e. expired), you should contact an experienced Atlanta car crash attorney who can advise you regarding this issue.

Failure to Respond to Discovery Requests

The parties to a civil lawsuit have a legal obligation to respond to certain requests for information and documents from the other side during the process of discovery within set periods of time. Sometimes the other side will request information that a party is not legally obligated to provide so the discovery response may include valid objections. However, requests for discovery cannot simply be ignored and disputes regarding the obligation to provide requested information must be resolved. If the parties cannot resolve the matter amicably through negotiations, a Motion to Compel may be filed by the defendant asking the court to order the plaintiff to provide the information or documents and requesting sanctions. This may result in an attorney fee award if the defendant prevails on the Motion to Compel.

If a party is ordered to provide certain materials or information but refuses to do so, the court can take the more drastic steps of precluding a party from presenting evidence on the relevant issue or disputing certain facts. These types of sanctions can completely decimate a personal injury case so it is important that the court not decide an injury victim is flouting its orders compelling discovery responses. This is why it is crucial to hire an attorney to help you navigate the complicated rubric of laws and procedural requirements.

Failure to Join an Indispensable Party

While the legal rules regarding joining indispensable parties to a lawsuit are complicated and beyond the scope of this discussion, it is important to understand that there are times that a court may dismiss a case if certain parties are not included as defendants.

Put Montlick and Associates' Over 30 Years Experience to Work For You

If you or someone close to you is injured or a loved one dies in an Atlanta motor vehicle collision, our Georgia personal injury attorneys at Montlick and Associates are available to provide effective legal representation to those throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

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.