Decatur Car Accident Statute of Limitations

Car accidents happen every day in Decatur and, in some cases, will require individuals to file a personal injury claim to recover damages. Georgia, like all other states, has time limits to file a claim for damages.

In order to avoid having your claim be denied or tossed out due to conflicts with the statute of limitations, be sure to work with an experienced attorney. By entrusting your case to a car accident lawyer, you may be able to have your claim filed long before the statute of limitations in Decatur become an issue.

What is a Statute of Limitations?

In Decatur, there is a limited amount of time after a car accident that an individual may seek recovery for damages. This time restriction is known as the statute of limitations. Under Georgia Code § 9-3-33, there are two primary statutes of limitations laws to be aware of for personal injury and property damage claims.

  • Personal Injury Claims– if a person is injured in a car accident, they have two years from the accident date to file a claim for injuries they suffered
  • Property Damage Claims – if personal property like a car or other items are damaged in a car accident, the statute of limitations is four years

Since some injuries are not discovered until days or weeks after an accident, Georgia laws pause the statute of limitations until the date that the injury is discovered or reasonably should have been discovered by the individual. This is known as the discovery rule. A car accident attorney in Decatur can make these filing determinations and the arguments to support the personal injury or property damage claim.

Document Filing Requirements

In filing a claim to meet statutory requirements, the injured person cannot merely notify the responsible party’s insurance company. The statute requires the plaintiff to file a complaint in a court of law.  Failing to file a car accident claim within the statute limit is essentially forfeiting the chance for compensation and having to manage expensive medical bills and other damages.

What if the Statute of Limitations is Expired?

Generally, once the statute of limitations has expired, a personal injury claim is void, and the defendant can request for any filed case to be dismissed. Despite these stringent filing requirements, Georgia law does provide a few notable exceptions in addition to the discovery rule.

The law provides an exception for if the plaintiff is a minor. If the injured party is a minor at the time of the accident, the statute of limitations may be paused and will not begin running until the minor is 18. At that point, the claim cannot be filed until one year after the minors’ 18th birthday. The statute may also be tolled if the at-fault party leaves the state after the accident, but before the plaintiff has the opportunity to file a lawsuit. The statute of limitations period would begin from the return date of the at-fault party. Lastly, a statute of limitations may be shortened by a contractual agreement between two parties.

Retaining Legal Assistance

Depending on the extent of the damage, a car accident can lead to expensive medical treatment, lost wages, and pain and suffering. You do not want to be barred from recovery for simply failing to meet the filing time requirements. Get in touch with a personal injury lawyer early to determine the Decatur car accident statute of limitations in your case so you and your family can start on the road to recovery.