Most car accident victims have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit to recover money for their injuries. Accident victims usually have four years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit for property damage. However, there are exceptions, and the deadline in your case could be shorter or longer.
Even though you may have two years to file a lawsuit, it’s important to see a lawyer and make an insurance claim for your injuries as soon as you can. It can take months for the insurance company to process the claim and offer you a reasonable settlement. If you wait, you miss out on money that could help you, and you risk having to go to court simply because you ran out of time to negotiate.
What are the deadlines for filing lawsuits in Georgia?
Both state and federal laws set deadlines for filing lawsuits. In legal language, these deadlines are known as “statutes of limitations.” In Georgia, the statute of limitations for most personal injury accident claims is two years from the date of the accident. However, there are several common exceptions:
- If you are making a wrongful death claim, the deadline is two years from the date of the person’s death.
- If the personal injury claim is being made by a minor, the deadline is two years after the minor’s 18th
- If the person making the claim is incompetent—such as in a coma after a severe accident—the time may be paused until the person becomes competent again.
In addition, if you are making claims against a governmental entity, special notification requirements apply. You might make a claim against a governmental entity if, for example, you were injured by a government vehicle or if your accident was caused by improperly maintained roads. These deadlines vary:
- For claims against counties you must file a special notice within 12 months of the date of the accident.
- For claims against cities, you only have 6 months after the date of the accident to file a notice.
This starts its own process in which the government entity gets to respond and the claim may be resolved without a court case, although this isn’t common.
What happens if I try to file a lawsuit after the deadline?
It usually won’t work.
You will be allowed to file the lawsuit, but the lawyers for the other side will have a chance to respond to it. They will almost certainly file a motion asking the court to dismiss your case because the statute of limitations has expired. The judge will then dismiss your case, and you may be ordered to pay the other side’s court costs and attorney’s fees.
Do I have to file a lawsuit to get money for my injuries?
Not always. Most car accident claims are resolved long before anyone files a lawsuit. After you make a claim with the insurance company, they will investigate the accident and decide who is at fault. In many cases, the insurance company will then offer you money. It’s important to realize that the insurance company is not your friend and is not looking out for your best interests. Its main concern is settling your claim cheaply so it can make a bigger profit.
Always talk to a good car accident lawyer before you take money or sign anything from the insurance company. A lawyer can do a separate investigation of the accident and your injuries, gathering evidence that will be convincing to the insurance company. A lawyer knows how to persuade the insurance company to negotiate, and can often get you far more than you would have been able to get on your own.
A lawyer can also tell you when the statute of limitations for your case expires. If negotiations with the insurance company break down, a lawyer can explain the situation and tell you the pros and cons of filing a car accident lawsuit in Atlanta. It’s up to you whether to go to court, but if you do, your lawyer will be with you every step of the way.
Talk to an Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer for Free
If you have been in a car accident, the clock is ticking. Our lawyers are ready to help you—at no charge unless we win money for you. Let us give you a free consultation to explain your rights and help you decide on your next actions. Call us at (404) 341-6555 or fill out the form to the right to get your free consultation today.