Every state has a set of laws that dictate how long a plaintiff has to take legal action against a third party. The statute will spell out exactly how long you have to sue for personal injury. Georgia gives you two years to file a personal injury lawsuit in most instances. However, there are exceptions.
You should ask your Atlanta personal injury lawyer exactly what filing deadline applies to your case. Since we offer all clients a free, initial consultation, you can have all of your questions answered free of charge.
The Law Only Gives Accident Victims Two Years to File Suit
In the State of Georgia, you only have two years to file a personal injury lawsuit. If you don’t file your complaint within that period, you won’t be able to sue the defendant for damages. The way the court sees things, two years is a fair amount of time for you to prepare your case.
It gives you enough time to get the medical care you need and determine the extent of your injuries. It also gives your injury attorney in Atlanta plenty of time to track down any witnesses you need and gather any available evidence. Finally, anything beyond two years, in the eyes of the judge, would be unreasonable.
The defendant shouldn’t have to wait that long to find out whether you’re going to take legal action. In addition, evidence can become stale after two years. The courts want you to file suit within a reasonable time frame so that it is fair to both you and the defendant.
When Does the Statute of Limitations Period Start?
The statute of limitations for personal injury starts on the date of your accident. For example, if you went shopping on January 30 of 2023 and suffered a slip and fall, you will have until January 29th of 2025 to file suit. Likewise, if you are involved in a car crash on March 1 of 2023, you’ll have until February 29th of 2024 to sue the defendant.
When you first meet with your Atlanta personal injury lawyer, you need to tell them the date that you suffered your accident. They need to make sure that your lawsuit is filed within the statute of limitations period.
Can Your Atlanta Personal Injury Lawyer Get an Extension from the Courts?
While your Atlanta personal injury lawyer can request an extension from the judge, the odds of it being granted are slim. The courts do not have a lot of power or discretion when it comes to the statute of limitations. Unless you can prove that you meet very specific criteria, you will not be granted any extensions.
You Were Underage
You were under the age of eighteen at the time of the accident. If this is the case, your two years will not start until the day you turn eighteen.
You Were Mentally Incompetent
You were mentally incompetent for a period of time within the first two years of the statute of limitations period. You will have to submit documentation proving that you were declared mentally incompetent at some point. If your injury attorney in Atlanta can prove this, you may be given an extension on the filing period.
The Defendant Was Avoiding Service
The defendant was intentionally avoiding service and you were not able to locate them during the statute of limitations period. If this is your justification for an extension, your Atlanta personal injury lawyer will need to submit proof that you attempted to serve the defendant several times to no avail.
As stated above, most requests for an extension of the statute of limitations are denied. If you’re able to fit one of the narrow categories for an extension, consider yourself extremely lucky.
What Happens if You Miss the Statute of Limitations Deadline?
If you don’t file your lawsuit in the proscribed time, the court will dismiss your complaint. Even if they don’t notice that you’ve missed the statute of limitations period, the defendant will. Once the defendant’s attorney sees that you’ve waited more than two years to file suit, they will file a motion to dismiss.
The judge will have no choice but to grant their motion because, legally, once you miss the deadline, your case is dead in the water. Unless your Atlanta personal injury lawyer was able to find a way to get an extension, you will have no further recourse against the defendant or their insurance carrier.
Just One More Reason Why You Should Contact an Injury Attorney in Atlanta
Most people hear that they have two years to file their personal injury lawsuit and they figure they have all the time in the world. What they don’t realize is that this time can fly by, especially when you’re fighting with the insurance company. Our injury attorneys in Atlanta need at least a couple of months to adequately prepare your case.
We need to review what has already been done in the case. We also need to talk to the insurance company and find out what their position is. Once they’ve done this, they need to file the actual lawsuit, along with any accompanying documentation. This takes time. You can’t wait until the last minute to call an Atlanta personal injury lawyer. If you do that, you risk the chance of missing the statute of limitations period.
While you are perfectly allowed to handle your own case, we don’t recommend that you do so. If you aren’t familiar with the law and the legal process, you run the chance of missing the filing deadline. As explained here, if that happens, your case will be dismissed and you’ll lose any chance of suing the defendant.
Our injury attorneys in Atlanta will make sure that doesn’t happen – as long as you reach out to them in time. You don’t want to make your lawyer’s job any harder than it already is. Give them ample time to research and investigate your case, gather evidence, and file the necessary papers with the court.