The Statute of Limitations for Georgia Car Accident Claims

remember to file your accident claim before the statute of limitations expires

Understanding the legal landscape surrounding car accidents is crucial, especially when it comes to the statute of limitations and how much time you have to file your car accident claim. This blog post will explain what the statute provides and its implications for car accident victims, as well as the ways an experienced Georgia automobile accident lawyer can help.

Understanding the Statute of Limitations

A “statute of limitations” is a state law that sets a time limit on a potential plaintiff’s right to bring a lawsuit. In Georgia, the statute of limitations for car accident claims is two years. This means that any lawsuit arising from a car accident in Georgia must be filed within two years of the date of the accident. This two-year limit is known as the “personal injury” statute of limitations, and it starts running on the date of the accident.

It’s important to note that this two-year time limit applies not only to lawsuits for personal injury but also to lawsuits for property damage (like vehicle damage) resulting from a car accident. For property damage claims, Georgia law provides a four-year statute of limitations, as stated in O.C.G.A. § 9-3-32.

The statute of limitations affects your case by setting a deadline for filing a lawsuit. O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33 generally gives you two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit for personal injury and wrongful death against the other driver and his insurance company. Even if you have a valid case, you cannot sue once two years have passed.

Failing to file within this timeframe can result in the loss of your legal rights to pursue compensation for damages. Therefore, it’s crucial to understand these time limits and act promptly to protect your rights.

Exceptions to the Rule

While the two-year limit is generally applicable, there are exceptions that may shorten or lengthen the deadline. Here are some notable exceptions:

Plaintiff Is Legally Incompetent at the Time of the Crash

If a crash victim is disabled or mentally incapacitated at the time of the crash, the statute of limitations does not begin until the disability or incapacitation ends. This is known as “tolling” the statute of limitations.

you only have a limited period of time to file a car accident lawsuit

Plaintiff Is Under 18 Years of Age

For children who are under eighteen years old when they are involved in a car accident, the two-year period begins from the date of their eighteenth birthday.

Defendant Leaves the State

The two-year statute of limitations for Georgia car accidents “tolls” or pauses when a defendant leaves the State of Georgia. This exception prevents potential defendants from leaving the state for two years after causing an accident to avoid liability.

Fraud

Section 9-3-96 extends the statute of limitations when the defendant commits fraud to prevent or deter the plaintiff from filing their action. The statutory period starts when the plaintiff discovers the fraud.

Fault and Compensation in Georgia

Georgia follows a traditional “fault”-based system, meaning the person at fault for the car accident will also be responsible for financial compensation relating to injuries, vehicle damage, and other effects. Practically speaking, that means the at-fault driver’s car insurance company will cover other people’s losses resulting from the accident, up to the driver’s liability coverage limits.

As part of any car insurance claim or lawsuit you file after a Georgia car accident, you’re entitled to compensation for the full spectrum of your losses. These losses, referred to as “damages” in legal terms, include medical treatment for car accident injuries, pain and suffering caused by the accident and resulting injuries, and lost income and other economic losses tied to the effects of the accident.

Seek Guidance from a Georgia Car Crash Lawyer

Given the complexity of these laws and the potential consequences of missing the deadline, it’s crucial to seek legal advice promptly if you’ve been involved in a car accident. A knowledgeable car accident attorney can help you understand and meet your deadline, ensuring you comply with the statute of limitations.

It’s always advisable to seek legal counsel from The Weinstein Law Firm to navigate these complex laws and ensure your rights are protected. Contact us at 770-HELP-NOW to schedule your free consultation.

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