Why Do I Have a Time Limit to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit
If you’ve suffered a personal injury and you intend to seek compensation through the courts, you need to act quickly. Like other states, Georgia has a time limit in place for filing lawsuits. It’s called a statute of limitations and it typically starts running on the day of your accident or injury. If you don’t file your case in the specified time, you lose the right to recover damages.
The statute applies to car accidents, dog bites, and deliberate actions which caused you harm. For claims against individuals, businesses or the state, you usually have two years to take legal action. However, if your claim is against a city or county, you only have six months to file a claim.
An Atlanta Personal Injury Lawyer Explains Why There is a Time Limit
There are good reasons why the statute of limitations on personal injury cases exists. The time limit is in place largely to protect defendants and to ensure lawsuits can be addressed promptly. If you want to file a lawsuit against another entity, you are expected to do so sooner rather than later.
Prompt filing ensures that the facts surrounding the case remain accessible. Let’s say you were involved in a car accident. In the months following the crash, you and the eyewitnesses will have a pretty good recollection of what happened. After two years or more, your memory is likely to be fuzzy. The witnesses may move away or change their contact number. They may even pass away or become incapacitated. Some of the facts and evidence you need to prove your case would, therefore, be gone. This would weaken your case significantly.
The statute of limitations also prevents people from suing entities simply for the purpose of harassment. Unscrupulous individuals would wait several years after an accident to claim they suffered injuries. Such stale claims would be difficult to prove, and they would take up both the court’s and the defendant’s time.
Exceptions Which a Personal Injury Lawyer Atlanta, GA Will Discuss with Clients
The statute of limitations is generally set in stone. However, there are some scenarios in which you may be able to get more time to file. The statute of limitations may either start at a later date than usual or be paused after it has started. This may happen if:
- The defendant left the state before you could file the lawsuit. If you couldn’t serve them with the necessary documents, the statute of limitation won’t start until they reside in Georgia again. This is set out under Georgia Code section 9-3-94.
- The injured person was under age 18 or affected by intellectual disability or mental illness at the time of the accident. The two-year period begins when the victim turns 18 or they are declared competent.
Why You Need to Hire a Georgia Personal Injury Lawyer Urgently
You need to consult with an attorney as soon as possible after you suffer an injury. Even if you don’t file a lawsuit in the end, you’ll get the professional advice and guidance you need. The courts rarely allow lawsuits which are filed after the time runs out. Notably, most attorneys won’t take your case if the statute of limitations will run out in six months or less. That’s because a lot goes into filing a lawsuit. Attorneys typically don’t want to rush their investigation or drafting.
It is important to note that the time limits also affect settlement negotiations with insurance companies. If the two-year deadline has passed without a settlement being reached, you’ll have little leverage. You can’t threaten to take the insurer to court when it’s impossible to do so. When you have an attorney on your side, they will explain all this to you and ensure you act promptly.
Contact the Bethune Law Firm for Help with Your Personal Injury Case Today.
If you’ve been injured through someone else’s negligence, you need to contact our attorneys right away. Evidence can disappear over time and memories fade. Even if you have a strong case and the defendant was negligent, it won’t matter if you don’t file in time.
When you hire one of our experienced personal injury attorneys, we will pursue your case zealously. We’ll secure the evidence, investigate the circumstances of your injury and formulate a strategy. All you need to do is contact us for a free consultation. If you decide to hire us, you’ll only pay us when we secure compensation for you. Call us today to book your appointment.