There’s a difference between legal claims and lawsuits in Georgia. Personal injury claims have deadlines governed by insurance companies, varying from agency to agency. Personal injury lawsuits are a different matter. Here, you generally have two years to file your case, per O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33. The same two-year statute applies to wrongful death lawsuits.
A Atlanta personal injury attorney from Bader Scott Injury Lawyers could help you with either matter, whether it’s a civil claim or lawsuit. You do not have to give up even if you think that the statute of limitations has passed. There are some rare exceptions that can extend the filing deadline.
The Statute of Limitations Limits How Long You Have to Sue
The statute of limitations is a procedural rule that sets the amount of time a person has to file a lawsuit. Every state has statutes of limitations. There are different deadlines for different types of lawsuits.
For example, the statute of limitations in Georgia for filing a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit is two years, and the statute of limitations for breach of contract on a written contract is six years, under O.C.G.A. § 9-3-24.
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The Consequences of Missing the Personal Injury Filing Deadline in Atlanta
If you do not file a lawsuit seeking compensation before the deadline expires, Georgia state law could forever bar you from going after financial compensation for your severe injuries and other losses. This could:
- Prevent you from holding the at-fault party accountable for their actions
- Let your pain and suffering go financially unacknowledged
- Leave the financial toll of the accident on your shoulders
- Create financial burdens for you and your loved ones
Missing the filing deadline can get your case dismissed. No matter how compelling your facts are or how careless the defendant was, the jury will not get to hear the facts of your case if you file too late.
How the Georgia Personal Injury Statute of Limitations Impacts Settlement Negotiations
You do not want to fall into the trap of thinking that you do not have to worry about the statute of limitations because you prefer to settle your claim out of court rather than litigate. If you can’t file a lawsuit against the person who harmed you, they will not have any reason to pay you money.
After the statute of limitations expires, the responsible insurance company will not negotiate because its policyholder is no longer liable for your losses.
Please be aware that negotiating with the at-fault party or their insurance company does not satisfy the statute of limitations. Only filing a lawsuit in court will protect your right to seek maximum compensation. If you have been negotiating with the insurer and it suddenly stops talking to you, the filing deadline might have passed.
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Situations That Can Extend the Filing Deadline in Atlanta Personal Injury Cases
In some rare situations, the judge might agree to extend Georgia’s statute of limitations. We wish to emphasize that these circumstances are quite unusual, so you do not want to count on getting the deadline extended.
You could have more than two years to file your personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit if:
- You were deemed legally incompetent at the time of the accident. A person who was legally incompetent because they suffered from a mental illness or intellectual disability at the time of the accident can have additional time to file a personal injury lawsuit. A child who gets injured can get extra time starting when they turn 18 to file a personal injury lawsuit.
- The defendant left the state of Georgia. If the defendant moved from Georgia after the accident, the plaintiff might get some extra time to file a personal injury lawsuit after the defendant moves back to the state.
- The defendant impeded the legal process. If the defendant fraudulently deterred the plaintiff from filing a personal injury lawsuit, the plaintiff might get extra time to file the case in court after discovering the fraud.
Again, these extensions are not guaranteed. So, if you want to sue, you should consider talking to a personal injury attorney well in advance of the filing deadline. If you want to try for an extension, you should also consider consulting a lawyer. Attempts to toll the statute of limitations are uphill battles, and you don’t want to navigate the process alone.
There’s Only One Set of Procedural Rules for Personal Injury Cases
Some people incorrectly assume that the judge will be lenient on procedural rules if they do not have a lawyer. You might be able to find YouTube videos on how to do a home renovation project, but you do not want to rely on those resources to explain how to handle your own personal injury claim.
There is not a separate set of rules for non-professionals who try to handle their own legal matters like DIY projects. The judge will hold you to the same rules as a lawyer, including dismissing your case if you miss the statute of limitations.
How to Avoid Missing the Statute of Limitations for a Personal Injury in Atlanta
You do not have to go through the personal injury claim or lawsuit process by yourself. If you hire Bader Scott Injury Lawyers to handle your case from the beginning, you can leave the procedural rules, like the statute of limitations, to us. We also handle the heavy lifting of your case, like investigating, dealing with the insurer, and negotiating a fair settlement, to us.
You will not have to pay us any upfront legal fees because we use contingency fees in these cases. We get paid a percentage of the settlement or court award at the end. If you do not win, you do not owe us any legal fees.
Reach out to our law firm for a free consultation today.