After suffering an injury in a car crash, you may want to file a claim to try to recover financial losses, but you may be wondering, how long do I have to file a car accident claim? Insurance companies set their own deadlines for filing claims, but most coincide with the state’s statute of limitations.
According to O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33, victims in a car accident seeking damages for their injuries, lost wages, and pain and suffering have two years from the date of the injury to file an insurance claim. However, this limit varies in some cases.
How Long Can You Wait to File a Car Accident Claim in Georgia?
Generally, you have two years under Georgia’s statute of limitations to move forward with your car accident lawsuit. However, the time limits vary in some cases.
Car accident lawyers typically recommend reaching out immediately after the crash about the time limit for pursuing your claim. Waiting too long can prevent you from securing compensation to cover your losses.
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The Purpose of the Statute of Limitations
Nearly all states have some sort of statute of limitations regarding the filing of personal injury lawsuits. The statute of limitations requires the victim to decide about filing a lawsuit within a reasonable time frame.
This deadline can vary from state to state and the types of personal injury cases. For example, in Georgia, car accident victims generally have a two-year window to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party. Most deadlines begin on the date of the injury or the discovery of the injury.
States enact a statute of limitations for all types of cases to be as fair as possible to both the victim and to the person who allegedly caused the accident. Without a deadline, the defendant could be subject to a lawsuit several years after the crash.
What Happens If You Miss the Deadline?
Sometimes, though, it can be difficult for the victim in the car crash to decide within the two-year window. Should the victim attempt to start the legal proceedings past the deadline under state law, more often than not, the Georgia court will dismiss the case.
However, there are some special circumstances where state laws allow for an extension to the deadline, known as tolling. The most notable example of tolling is when the victim is too young. If a victim is younger than the age of 18, the statute of limitations’ deadline begins on their 18th birthday, according to O.C.G.A § 9-3-90. This law also applies to victims suffering from a disability.
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When Can You File Car Accident Claims in Georgia?
When driving your vehicle and another driver hits you, there is a reasonable chance you will suffer some injury. Some of these injuries could be minor, allowing you to recover in a few days and return to work quickly.
However, some accident injuries lead to weeks or months of rehabilitation and physical therapy, leaving you unable to work in the same way you did before the crash. This condition can lead to financial hardships for you and your family.
In a case like this, you have the right to file a lawsuit against the driver who caused the crash, but you must do so within the two-year statute of limitations.
What Else Should You Do After a Car Accident in Georgia?
It’s essential to file a claim soon after your car accident in Georgia to avoid issues with the statute of limitations. However, what other steps should you take after a collision to protect your claim? We recommend that you:
- Report the accident to the police
- Take pictures of the accident scene
- Get contact information from other drivers and witnesses
- Seek medical care for your injuries
- Start working with a car accident lawyer
Getting help immediately following a crash can help you move forward with your claim, avoiding penalties for missing important deadlines. In addition, getting to work right away allows your lawyer to gather the evidence before it’s removed or destroyed.
Finally, getting a lawyer’s help right away allows the law firm to speak with witnesses before they forget what happened.
What Losses Can You Recover With a Car Accident Claim?
If you choose to file a claim, you have the right to pursue compensation for any expenses you have paid while receiving treatment for your injuries. Some of these recoverable expenses include:
- Medical bills
- Prescription drugs
- Medical equipment
- Physical therapy costs
- Emergency care, including an ambulance ride
- Hospital stays
- Stays at a rehabilitation facility
You also have the right to seek compensation for any wages you lost while recovering from your injuries. Should your injuries leave you unable to continue working at the same job you did before the accident, you can even attempt to recover the wages you would have likely earned if you did not suffer injuries in the accident.
Finally, you have the ability to seek pain and suffering damages. This compensation can include lingering pain from physical injuries. It could also include things related to any mental trauma you have suffered, such as an inability to sleep or drive a car because of the fear brought on from the accident.
How Do Lawyers Help After Car Accidents in Georgia
Your car accident lawyer can handle all your legal needs after a collision. A lawyer can start by answering any questions you have about the accident and the statute of limitations. After your initial consultation, a lawyer can:
- Investigate the causes of your accident to establish fault
- Handle all communication with insurance agents and the other driver
- Review all your losses and track them
- Go over any settlement offers made by the insurance company
- Help you decide to file a lawsuit
In many cases, car accident claims in Georgia resolve out of court through an insurance settlement. However, not every settlement offer works in your favor. Insurance agents often try to get drivers to accept subpar offers.
A car accident attorney can assess any offer made by the insurance company and then advise you of your options. Lawyers can negotiate on your behalf, pushing for a larger settlement that covers your losses. However, in some cases, lawyers may advise you to file a lawsuit instead. Filing a lawsuit allows your attorney to take your claim to court, where you may receive a verdict in your favor.
Discuss Georgia’s Statute of Limitations with a Lawyer
Although you can receive a number of benefits from hiring a car accident attorney from Atlanta to help with your lawsuit, ensuring you meet all deadlines in the case is a key benefit.
The team at Bader Scott Injury Lawyers is ready to stand by your side after a car accident, ensuring that your case stays on track and meets all deadlines. Even if you are approaching the two-year deadline or have passed it, contact us today to determine if you have a case.