Being involved in a car accident can be frustrating, distressing, and overwhelming. There are so many things happening all at the same time, and it can be difficult to think straight. If you find yourself in a situation where you’ve been injured in a car accident, you may have a lot of questions.
One of the first questions you might have is, “How long after a car accident can you sue?” The short answer is two years although that can vary with different types of lawsuits. In most cases, the statute of limitations in Georgia for a personal injury lawsuit or for a wrongful death claim is two years.
When Does the Statute of Limitations Begin?
The statute of limitations begins on the date of the auto accident. This can be any incident involving a car, motorcycle, or truck.
Are There Any Exceptions?
This two-year limitation period is the case for most personal injury claims. However, there are some exceptions to this.
If an injured person in the incident is under the age of 18 on the date of the motor vehicle accident, they will typically be able to file a personal injury lawsuit any time before they reach the age of 20. If an accident victim is considered legally incompetent due to mental disability at the time of the incident, they also have a longer time period in which a lawsuit can be filed.
If the driver was driving for work, they may want to pursue a workers’ compensation claim as opposed to a personal injury claim. This is typically the strategy if the accident was caused by the driver’s own negligence. However, the workers’ compensation claim deadline is much earlier. In that situation, clients are advised to seek the counsel of a personal injury attorney as well as a workers’ compensation lawyer.
If the motor vehicle accident is caused by a government employee, Georgia law requires an injury victim to give formal notice of their claim to the county, state, municipality, or any other government entity in the event that the claim will be made against the government or a government employee. If you are in this situation, it is essential to consult a personal injury attorney as soon as possible following the accident.
Read more about what to do after a car accident in Georgia
Does My Entire Case Need to Be Resolved in this Time?
Certainly not. All this means is that you will need to file the claim before the two-year time period is up. This will inform the defendant, your insurance company, and the court of your intentions.
What Other Deadlines Do I Need to Know?
The deadline for filing your claim can differ depending on the type of claim. How long do you have to file the claim?
- Six months – in the event that your accident involves a county or city vehicle (this may differ with certain localities)
- One year – in the event that your incident involves a state vehicle
- Two years – the majority of cases in which you are seeking compensation for injury
- Four years – when you have just filed a property damage claim
Should I File a Lawsuit Immediately After the Accident?
There are some cases in which a personal injury attorney will recommend filing a lawsuit immediately after your accident. For example, if your case is a type of situation where there is a need to utilize the power of a Court to gather records from the driver or company involved.
There are also many reasons you may not want to file a lawsuit immediately. If negligence has been admitted by the at-fault party and the amount of medical bills or vehicle damage is not in dispute, you may be advised to speak to the insurance company to see if a settlement can be reached without having to file a suit.
This is why it is critical to contact a car accident attorney as soon as possible so you can get the best possible advice for your specific circumstances.
Should I Wait Until the Last Minute?
It’s true that you have up to two years in most cases to file a personal injury lawsuit following a car accident. However, it’s not wise to wait until the last few months or even weeks to make a claim or contact a personal injury lawyer. Investigating your case and negotiating a personal injury claim takes time, and the more time your attorney has, the better.
Should I Even Sue for a Car Accident?
Before you consider speaking to a personal injury lawyer about your case, ask yourself the following questions:
- Was I seriously injured in this vehicle accident? Was anyone in my vehicle injured?
- Was a family member killed during the crash?
- Are the injuries preventing the injured party from working?
- Are the injuries affecting the quality of life of the injured party?
- Was the accident caused by someone else’s negligence?
If you can answer “yes” to one or more of these questions, you should definitely contact a personal injury lawyer regarding your case. From there, you can discuss the circumstances with your attorney to decide whether or not to file suit.
Read more about 7 delayed car accident symptoms not to ignore
Can I Bring the Lawsuit to Another State?
If the negligent driver was a resident of another state or was working for an out-of-state employer, it may be possible for the lawsuit to be filed in another state. These cases are unusual, however, so you should discuss the specific circumstances of your case with your attorney.
If you have recently been involved in a motor vehicle accident, it is critical that you speak to an attorney as soon as possible. Reach out to us today to schedule your free case evaluation.