How Long Can I Sue After a Car Accident in Georgia?
Dealing with the aftermath of a car accident is almost always frustrating, exhausting, and overwhelming. In those first few days or even weeks after the accident occurred, hiring a personal injury lawyer or filing a lawsuit might not necessarily be the first thing on your mind.
But if you or a loved one are now weighed down by injuries and financial strain, struggling to pay for medical bills, not to mention daily living expenses, you need to start thinking about seeking fair compensation.
And you need to do it sooner rather than later, because you won’t have the opportunity to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit forever. Georgia has a strict personal injury statute of limitations, and the insurance company isn’t going to politely let you know when you’re running down the clock. If you miss the deadline, you permanently lose your right to sue under Georgia law. And if you delay too long, you may not have enough time to build a strong case before it’s too late.
I met with Harry Brown personally and he sat with me for 20 minutes at our initial consultation to explain everything. He even called after my surgery to see how I was doing. I met with him several more times after that and was kept informed about my case throughout. I highly recommend Harry Brown as an attorney.
What Is the Georgia Personal Injury Statute of Limitations?
So, how long do you have after an accident to sue the at-fault driver? The broad answer is: It depends.
The “statute of limitations” is the legal term to describe the amount of time following a personal injury when you can file a lawsuit. The type of personal injury can also impact the amount of time you have to file, and it varies from state to state.
It is critical that you research the statute of limitations for personal injury cases in your state. If you do not take legal action within this time limit, your ability to sue will be forever lost.
For example, the Georgia personal injury statute of limitations is two years. Those who live in South Carolina, however, get three years to file most kinds of personal injury lawsuits. On the other hand, if you live in Tennessee, you only get one.
Exceptions to the statute of limitations for personal injury cases
Exceptions can, on very rare occasions, extend the statute of limitations. Some exceptions that may apply are:
- For a minor child or mentally incapacitated victim
- In the case of fraud
- With the “discovery of harm” rule
Essentially, the discovery of harm rule states that the time frame you are given to file a lawsuit technically begins when you could discover and be aware that you have been harmed. It should be noted and understood that car accident personal injury cases do not typically fall under the discovery of harm exception, because you would have easily been aware of the damage and accident the day of the car crash.
The discovery of harm rule is most commonly applied in medical malpractice claims, as an individual may not experience negative symptoms until well after the day of their medical appointment or surgery.
These exceptions are rare and you should always contact The Brown Firm for a free consultation to find out if your claim qualifies for any extension.
Preparing to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit
On the scene of an accident, you probably won’t know if your case will have to be litigated, but it is smart to prepare just in case. There are several things you can do to prepare yourself in the event you need to file a lawsuit.
1. Make Sure You Document Everything
You never want your personal injury case to turn into a “he said, she said” argument. You want to control as much as possible and present the facts as clearly as you can. If it comes down to the insurance companies and their adjusters, they will try to use vagueness against you to pay you a lower settlement.
Everything comes down to evidence. The more evidence collected in your favor, the better your settlement will be.
You’ll want to do the following to ensure you are providing significant evidence:
- Take photos of your car and areas of damage. Capturing every detail on camera is important.
- Collect witness statements that reinforce your stance that the other driver is at fault. Also, take witness names, addresses, and ask for copies of any pictures that were captured of the accident scene.
- Always obtain a police report at the site of your accident. While police reports may be described as mostly an opinion, having the other driver appear as the guilty party in the police report could substantially assist your case.
- Gather information from the other party. This can include name, address, driver’s license number, license plate number, and insurance information.
- Seek medical treatment. If you plan to include injuries, pain, and suffering into your case you will need proper medical documentation.
Remember: The more evidence you gather, the stronger your case will be.
2. Call a Personal Injury Attorney
Whether you are still early in settlement negotiations the insurance companies or decide to sue, it is always best to have an accident injury lawyer on your side.
Lawyers understand the law and all of the intricacies that surround it. You don’t want to risk your settlement due to uncertainty. Besides having a better grasp of the law, lawyers have experience and training on how to use the evidence to coherently support your case.
Often individuals in car accidents will avoid contacting a personal injury attorney for fear of the expense.
However, many lawyers work on a contingency basis. That means your lawyer will only be paid if you win your case.
This creates a low-risk environment for the injured party and encourages the attorney to work tirelessly to win the case and earn you the highest financial compensation.
Request your free consultation with The Brown Firm to discuss your accident and the claims you might need to make. Our experienced team of attorneys will review your unique case with your health and financial needs in mind.
3. Deciding the Next Steps
Now that you have collected the necessary evidence and have consulted with a personal injury attorney, you should look at the facts and decide whether or not the best decision is to sue.
Work with your attorney to estimate the true value of your personal injury claim, considering all your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other recoverable damages. Almost always, the insurance company’s first settlement offer will be nowhere close to fair. But if after a few rounds of back-and-forth negotiations they still aren’t offering a reasonable settlement, your best choice may be to sue.
Remember, insurance companies are trying to end cases quickly and for the least amount of money possible. Even your own insurance company representing you doesn’t necessarily have your best financial interest at heart. When you hire an experienced trial attorney and demonstrate your willingness to file a lawsuit, you show the insurer that you’re serious about getting what you deserve.
Just because you sued doesn’t necessarily mean your case will go to trial. You can continue to negotiate with the insurer as the case proceeds, right up to the date of the trial. And because trials are risky and expensive—and because you’re now well represented—the insurance company should be much more motivated to offer a better deal.
RELATED POST: 4 Common Mistakes People Make With Insurance Companies
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Considering Your Legal Options? Contact The Brown Firm Today
Harry Brown and his team of attorneys can help you weigh your options and decide if pursuing a lawsuit is the right decision for you. We represent clients at all stages of the Georgia personal injury claims process. Whether you were injured in car accident, dog bite, slip and fall, or other personal injury scenario, our team may be able to help.
It’s never too early to contact an attorney. Although there’s a two-year window to sue, it takes time to build a strong legal case—and there may be time-sensitive information or important evidence that can be lost or destroyed if not gathered soon after the accident. Don’t wait until the filing deadline is just a few months away to take this important step.
Even if you’re not sure whether or not you have a fighting chance, give us a call to discuss it! Our consultations are always free, and you owe no legal fees unless we win your case. You can reach The Brown Firm at (800) 529-1441 or by completing our simple online contact form.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.
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