Georgia Personal Injury Claims: Why Time Is of the Essence


April 19, 2011

When someone suffers serious injuries in a Georgia car crash, slip and fall accident or is injured by a defective product, it is understandably a time of great anxiety. You may be recovering from serious injuries and struggling to deal with the financial pressure of being off work. The last thing most accident victims want to deal with is legal and insurance hassles. When it comes to preserving your legal rights to fair compensation after a serious accident, however, he who hesitates can lose his rights to make a claim.

Georgia law states that “[a]ctions for injuries to the person shall be brought within two years after the right of action accrues . . .” O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33 (2011). (However, as described below there are exceptions, and the time frame can be as short as 6 months and in some situations it can be longer).  This may seem like plenty of time to initiate a legal claim for compensation but there are important reasons to avoid delay. At Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, we have been representing personal injury victims throughout Atlanta and all of Georgia for over 27 years.

Although Georgia generally allows two years to file a personal injury claim, notice provisions with much shorter deadlines may affect your case. For example, someone filing a claim against a county government agency in Georgia must give notice that he or she intends to sue within twelve months from the date of the injury or loss. Claims against municipalities in Georgia, however, require notice within six months of the date of injury or loss. Failure to file a notice may result in your claim being dismissed. An experienced Georgia personal injury attorney will know any time limits and requirements for the notice ensuring compliance. The failure to comply with the statute of limitations or a statutory notice deadline may be a complete bar to recovery no matter how serious your injuries or how clear the other party’s fault. The best personal injury attorneys are very cognizant of potential legal liability traps and may be unwilling to take your case if you wait until too close to a statutory notice or statute of limitation deadline because they know the severe consequences associated with missing these deadlines and many times it is not that simple to complete the required actions if there is not sufficient time remaining.

There are also reasons to promptly contact a Georgia personal injury law firm related to developing and preserving evidence establishing potential liability of the negligent party. The longer you wait to begin an investigation, the more evidence that is lost and the fewer witnesses that are available. A long delay also makes witness testimony less reliable. Accident scenes are cleaned up and memories fade. Skilled insurance defense attorneys will use the frailties of human memory and recall to manipulate and mislead witnesses. Additionally, insurance companies may conveniently destroy or lose photographs of damaged cars or equipment. To ensure that you have the most persuasive evidence and witness testimony, you need to act promptly.

Finally, if you were not the only injured party, you may not be the only one seeking compensation. If the potentially liable party has limited insurance coverage, he or she will have a cap on how much total compensation his or her insurance will provide. This can result in a “first come, first served” approach. If you are the last in line, or if the people before you have considerable damages, there may be no compensation left for you no matter how convincing your claim or how persuasive your supporting evidence. Under Georgia law, a person whose negligence causes injury to another is liable for past, current and future medical expenses, property damages, any permanent disfigurement, disability, or emotional distress and any other costs directly resulting from the accident. These damages add up quickly, so if you are not prompt in filing your claim, in many situations there may be no insurance coverage left to compensate you for your loss.

Insurance and legal issues resulting from injuries suffered in a serious Georgia accident are inherently stressful and intimidating. A car accident or slip and fall incident never happens at a good time. It can seem overwhelming to think about contacting a Georgia personal injury lawyer to deal with these issues when you are already dealing with your recovery. However, it is very important, particularly when considering medical bills. The sooner you make the call to the experienced and compassionate personal injury lawyers at Montlick and Associates, the greater your chance for success and oftentimes the greater the amount of damages you will recover.

Our experienced Atlanta Georgia personal injury lawyers will give their best efforts toward obtaining the recovery you deserve, as part of our ongoing goals of providing exceptional service and of being regarded as the best personal injury law firm in Georgia. Montlick and Associates is available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and 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.