Is There a Statute of Limitations on Personal Injury Cases?

Statute of limitations ranges from one to six years depending on the state. In Georgia, the statute of limitations on personal injury cases is generally two years, but there are several exceptions to this rule.

It is a good idea to seek damages as soon as possible after an injury. Aside from the statute of limitations, there are several reasons to do so:

  1. It often makes for a stronger case. For instance, eyewitness accounts can fade over time, and a witness's recollection of events might be hazy after two years.
  2. Personal injury cases can take some time; the sooner you pursue damages, the sooner you can get paid.

What is the statute of limitations?

The statute of limitations is the amount of time you have from the date of your injury to file a lawsuit. In other words, if you got injured in Georgia on June 1, 2017, then, in most cases, you have until June 1, 2019, to file a lawsuit against the responsible party or parties.

If you wait until the statute of limitations has passed, your lawsuit has a near certain chance of being dismissed on those grounds, though you may be granted an exemption in certain unique situations.

How long do I have to file a personal injury lawsuit in Georgia?

The standard statute of limitations on personal injury cases in Georgia is two years. For property damage, you have four years, and for cases involving reputational damage, you have only one year. In one specific type of personal injury case – that in which loss of consortium is a factor – the statute of limitations in Georgia extends to four years.

What are the exceptions to the statute of limitations on personal injury cases in Georgia?

In certain personal injury cases in Georgia, the statute of limitations does not apply, or it can be extended. Here are the most common cases:

The Discovery Rule

The discovery rule comes into play when the injured party discovers new information that sheds new light on the case. It is most commonly invoked when the injured party did not previously know about:

  • The injury
  • The fact that the responsible party was to blame for the injury

A common example involves exposure to toxic substances such as asbestos. Decades ago, people had no idea of the causal link between asbestos and lung cancer. So it would be unreasonable to expect someone to file a lawsuit within two years of the date of diagnosis when they had no way of knowing the actual cause of their condition.

In discovery rule cases, the statute of limitations still applies, but the clock begins running on the day the injured party learns of the relevant information.

The Responsible Party Leaves the State

Another situation that triggers an extension of the statute of limitations is when the responsible party leaves the state. If this happens, the statute of limitation is effectively paused during the time the responsible party is out of state.

For instance, if your injury occurred on June 1, 2017, and the responsible party immediately fled the state the same day, not to return until June 1, 2018, then the statute of limitations would be effectively paused for that one year. Rather than having to file a lawsuit by June 1, 2019, you would have until the same date in 2020.

The Case Involves a Minor or a Disabled Person

If the injured party is under the age of 18 or is intellectually disabled, mentally ill, or insane, the state will typically still hear their lawsuit even if it is filed after the two-year statute of limitations. This situation can be subjective, which is why it is important to get a skilled personal injury lawyer involved in the process as early as possible.

Call 404-842-7838 to Speak With a Personal Injury Lawyer

The statute of limitations is just one of many facets of personal injury law that can affect the outcome of your case. At S. Burke Law, our team fights for the rights of our injured clients with compassion and conviction.

Call our office today for a free consultation. You can meet your attorney, get all your questions answered, and receive free legal advice on how to proceed. We look forward to putting our knowledge and resources to work for you. Call now for an appointment: 404-842-7838.