The Consequences of Mistakes Related to the Statute of Limitations


May 31, 2011

The legal term for a statutory deadline within which one must bring a lawsuit involving personal injury or wrongful death is called the statute of limitations.

The importance of this deadline can not be overstated, as the failure to comply with the timing requirements of the statute of limitations typically results in a complete bar to obtaining legal compensation for one’s injuries or loss of a loved one. The statute of limitations applies regardless of the substantive merits of one’s lawsuit, with often tragic results when a deadline is missed. If you or a loved one has been injured or you have suffered the loss of a loved one, it is important to seek immediate legal advice regarding your rights, including the statute of limitations. Many people assume that interpreting and complying with deadlines for filing a lawsuit should be a relatively easy matter, but it can be very complex.

At Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, we have been representing those throughout Georgia who are injured by the negligence of others for over 27 years. It can be quite easy for laymen to miscalculate the timing requirements for complying with the statute of limitations. Sometimes certain claims within the same incident will have differing statute of limitations periods and compliance with the longer period does not excuse failure to comply with the shorter time periods. Further, there may be other contractual deadlines that must be complied with, such as specific reporting requirements in insurance policies.

A particularly complex and sad result can occur when one fails to recognize the shorter time limit on some claims brought as part of a personal injury claim, such as a Georgia auto accident lawsuit. For example, a lawsuit may assert claims of personal injury for those injuries suffered by the accident victim and loss of consortium (loss of services and companionship from a spouse). Under Georgia law, the statute of limitations for a loss of consortium claim is four years, but it is only two years for personal injury, such as injuries suffered in an Atlanta car accident. If you file in the window between two and four years, the court generally will permit the loss of consortium claim to proceed but rule that the personal injury claim is barred.

The reason this result is so important is that personal injury damages may well be much more extensive than loss of consortium damages. If the personal injury claim is barred, it means that the injury victim may not recover for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering or loss of quality of life. Although the loss of consortium claim may provide compensation, the amount of the recovery may be insufficient to pay an injury victim’s medical expenses let alone the victim’s other expenses and loss.

A person intending to file a personal injury claim should always seek immediate legal advice. It is never a good idea to wait to seek advice because there is typically a substantial amount of investigation that must be conducted before a lawsuit can even be filed. There are also significant legal complexities and nuances involved in filing a complaint to initiate a lawsuit. Most attorneys will be hesitant to take a case in the 11th hour because of the liability risk involved if the statute is missed.  Additionally, when a government entity is involved the statute of limitations for claims against that entity can be as short as 6 months, depending on what government entity or agency is involved, and has its own set of notice and other requirements that must be complied with fully.

If you have been injured in a serious Georgia auto accident, you should act quickly to assess and preserve your potential legal rights to compensation. The statute of limitations may seem like a trivial procedural rule but it is a powerful defense to a personal injury accident despite the strength of your case. If you or your loved one has been injured, please contact our experienced Georgia personal injury attorneys so that we can review your situation and let you know how we can help.

Our Georgia personal injury attorneys are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Dalton, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities 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.