Car Accident Claim and Filing Time: How Long Do I Have?

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One of the reasons we tell our clients to contact our office as soon as possible after their car accident is because you only have a certain period of time to file your car accident claim. Every state has something called the statute of limitations. This is essentially a law that tells you how long you have to file any kind of lawsuit imaginable. In Georgia, the statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits is only two years. Two years may sound like an awful lot of time to you, but to your injury attorney in Marietta, Georgia, it’s not much time at all.

By the time you come in and sit down with one of our associates, weeks or even months have probably passed since your car crash. By that time, you have probably already received a denial letter from the insurance company. You have probably been treated for injuries and released from your doctor. The only reason you come to see us is because you want compensation for your injuries.

The problem is that if you wait too long, your car accident attorney in Marietta won’t have enough time to prepare your car accident claim. You also risk the chance that you’ll miss the filing deadline and have your case dismissed.

Here, we will discuss how long you have to file your claim in Georgia. We will also explain what happens if you don’t meet the statute of limitations deadline. If you happen to have a specific question about your car accident case, feel free to contact us directly. You can always schedule your free, initial consultation by phone or through our website. You can count on the other driver having a team of attorneys representing them. The last thing you want to do is handle the matter by yourself.

The Statute of Limitations in Georgia Only Gives You 2 Years to Sue

As mentioned above, every state has a very detailed law that spells out how long you have to file different types of car accident claim. This law is called the statute of limitations. In Georgia, the courts and the legislature have determined that two years is plenty of time for an accident victim to file suit. The two years start on the date of your accident. This is important for a variety of reasons:

  • Some of our clients think the statute of limitations begins when they realize how serious their injuries are
  • Other people assume that the two years start the day they received their insurance denial
  • Many others do not think the filing starts until they are completely recovered from their injuries

The reason this is so important is that if you don’t come to us with plenty of time left before the filing window closes, we won’t have time to prepare your case for your car accident claim. Your attorney has to do a lot more than just file paperwork with the courts. They have to review your police report and any accompanying forms filled out by the police officer who investigated the crash.

They will need to painstakingly review your medical records dating back up to 10 years to make sure you didn’t have a pre-existing condition they weren’t aware of. They also have to track down any and all evidence they can use to prove your case. This can take months. If you wait too long to meet with a car accident attorney in Marietta, they may not be able to represent you.

When Does the Statute of Limitations Start on a Car Accident Claim?

As explained above, the Georgia statute of limitations starts on the day of your accident. You have two years from that date to file your car accident claim. The court doesn’t want to hear that you couldn’t find the defendant and could not serve them properly. Nor does it judge want to hear that your injuries were so severe that you were not physically able to file your claim in time. There are very few cases in which the judge will grant an extension. These include the following:

  • The accident victim is a minor and their parents were not able or willing to sue on their behalf
  • The plaintiff is mentally incompetent
  • The defendant is fraudulently evading service
  • The plaintiff was in a coma or other induced state, and therefore, was not able to file their lawsuit

Even if one of these conditions apply in your case, there is no guarantee the judge will grant your extension. Your injury attorney in Marietta, Georgia will do everything they can to petition the court for an extension. However, since the judge has little discretion in this area, there is a good chance your claim will still be dismissed for lack of a timely filing.

Your Car Accident Attorney in Marietta Cannot Get You an Extension

In order to apply for an extension, your car accident attorney in Marietta will have to petition the court. They will have to list specific grounds on which you’re requesting the extension. They will also have to submit evidence proving that you meet one of the limited exceptions to the statute of limitations. Your injury attorney in Marietta, Georgia can’t guarantee that the extension will be approved. More often than not, the civil judges in Georgia deny these extension requests. The way they see it, two years is plenty of time for a plaintiff to resolve any issues they’re dealing with and move forward with their case.

What Happens if You Miss the Filing Deadline?

If you miss the filing deadline for your car accident claim, not only will your case be dismissed, but you will also be barred from refiling. It doesn’t matter if you had damages in the amount of $1,000,000. The only thing the judge cares about is what the date of your accident was and what the date is that you filed your lawsuit. If this date exceeds 730 days, your case will be dismissed.

More than likely the judge’s clerk will notice that you’re beyond the statute and reject your claim when you file it. If your complaint somehow survives this initial scrutiny, you can bet the defendant’s attorney will file a motion to dismiss. Once they do this the judge has no choice but to honor their request. The judge will then issue an order dismissing your case and forever barring you from taking legal action against the defendant.

Contact a Seasoned Injury Attorney in Marietta, Georgia

We always suggest that our clients contact our office as soon as possible after their car accident. Sit down with one of our car accident attorneys in Marietta and let them review your case. We do offer potential clients a free, initial consultation so you risk nothing by coming in and taking advantage of our expertise.