Car accidents are traumatic, and the aftermath can be confusing. You should focus on recovering, not struggling through legalities if injured. You could be scheduling medical appointments, replacing your vehicle, or adapting to life after a car crash.
Your life could be chaotic for some time, but you don’t want to miss a deadline or lose the ability to recoup your losses. Remember, there are time limits to file a claim for compensation if someone’s reckless or negligent behavior injures you, so it’s essential to know the law and your rights.
Here’s more about how long you have to file a claim in Georgia after a car accident.
Georgia Has a Statute of Limitations
After someone else’s negligence caused you harm, you have limited time to file legal action. This is called the “statute of limitations.” The Georgia statute of limitations is intended to provide finality and certainty so that there is no unlimited amount of time for people to bring claims.
In Georgia, you generally have two years to file an injury claim against the at-fault party after a car accident. There can be exceptions. However, beginning legal action as soon as possible is in your best interest to ensure you receive the maximum compensation available.
In addition to the statute of limitations, other limitations may be specific to your case. This occurs most commonly with claims involving a government vehicle. When suing a state, city, or county, there are requirements to notify the respective government agency within a particular period after the accident. This is called an ante litem notice requirement. In Georgia, there is a one-year time limit for sending an ante litem notice to the State of Georgia or a county and a six-month deadline for sending an ante litem notice to a city.
There are Other Personal Injury Claim Time Limits
Besides filing a personal injury claim within two years, you can also file a claim if the car accident killed a loved one. You’ll have two years from the death of your loved one to file a wrongful death suit.
Minors hurt in the crash will have two years after they reach the “age of majority,” or 18 years old.
If you’re seeking damages for property damage alone, you’ll have four years to file a claim. There’s also a four-year statute of limitations for a loss of consortium claim.
Contact Your Insurance ASAP
While you might have two years to file a lawsuit, you should immediately inform your insurance about the accident. Remember, Georgia is an “at-fault” state, which means the driver that caused the crash is responsible for the damages caused in the crash.
You’ll be able to file a claim with your insurance company, which will work with the at-fault driver’s insurer to reach a settlement. You could also file directly with the driver’s insurer or take them to civil court.
You also need to notify your own insurance company as soon as possible. You may recover benefits under your own policy, such as uninsured motorist coverage or medical payments coverage. The failure to provide your own insurance company with timely notice of the accident can be grounds for denying a claim you bring later. It is important to notify the insurance companies immediately after a wreck.
Filing a Lawsuit Quickly Can Protect You
You may have two years to file a claim after a crash, but that time can quickly get away from you. You’ll have a better chance of winning compensation if the facts of the case are still fresh. That doesn’t mean going into a lawsuit without all the evidence, but you need to work quickly to secure the information you need to prove the at-fault driver injured you, and they should pay for those damages.
Filing a lawsuit allows you to gather evidence from witnesses before evidence is lost, destroyed, or before people forget what happened. Filing a lawsuit also shows the insurance company that you are serious about insisting on full and complete compensation. Far too often, insurance companies make lowball offers to people who are not willing to file a lawsuit. In one recent trial, for example, our firm obtained a jury verdict of $204,000 in a case where the pre-suit offer was $55,000. In another, we obtained a verdict of $347,000 where the insurance company offered $0 before a lawsuit and only $3,000 before trial.
Waiting to File Could Cost You.
After a crash, the at-fault driver should cover your economic and non-economic losses. These are the costs associated with your car crash and include losses such as your:
- Medical Expenses: treatments, prescriptions, or specialist visits.
- Lost Wages: the wages you would have earned if you weren’t recovering from a crash.
- Diminished Earning Capacity: if you can’t return to your job in the same role or at the same functionality.
- Property Damage: the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle or anything damaged in the crash.
- Anticipated Medical Costs: any expenses you may face as you recover, like modifying your home to accommodate a change in mobility or disability.
Non-economic damages are more conceptual and are more difficult to calculate. They include:
- Pain & Suffering: the actual pain and suffering, mental anguish, emotional distress, the shock of the impact, and interference with the enjoyment of life are some examples.
- Scarring or Disfigurement: dealing with injuries after a crash that have left physical impressions.
- Loss of Consortium: inability to enjoy socialization anymore or loss of companionship.
If your claim falls outside the Georgia statute of limitations, you could be disqualified from recovering the compensation you deserve, regardless of the details or strength of your case.
Consulting a Lawyer after a Car Crash Can Help
It’s possible to pursue a claim alone. However, if you aren’t experienced with legal matters, you could overlook key details, like the filing deadline. A personal injury attorney can help you through the whole claims process so you don’t feel overwhelmed and can work on recovering. An experienced attorney can also properly evaluate your case, determine the true value of your damages, and take steps to ensure you are fully compensated.
When you call a personal injury lawyer after a car crash, they can help you document your recovery by keeping track of your medical bills, injuries, prescriptions, and any developments in your health.
An attorney will also be able to investigate your crash and build your case by working to reinforce your statements. A knowledgeable and experienced personal injury law firm will know how to manage your case, so they adhere to critical legal requirements, like the Georgia statute of limitations.
Call a Georgia Personal Injury Lawyer
Litigation may not be the first thing on your mind when you’re hurt in a car accident. You might think the insurance company will offer you a fair settlement or the at-fault driver’s policy will cover your bills and repairs. But that isn’t always the case.
Working with The Champion Firm can be the difference. Our Georgia car accident lawyers have been helping clients in situations like yours for years. We can help you too. We can advise you of your rights, work with your insurance company, and give you a chance at living the life you had before the crash – well before the statute of limitations expires.
Call us at 404-596-8044 or use our online form to schedule a free, no-risk consultation.