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What Is the Georgia Statute of Limitations for a Car Accident?

September 22, 2021Car Accident

If you plan on filing a lawsuit after a car accident, it is important to act quickly. All lawsuits filed in Georgia civil court are subject to a rule known as the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations establishes a filing deadline for certain claims, and if you do not file your lawsuit within this timeframe, the court will likely dismiss your case. To protect your right to compensation, it is crucial to know Georgia’s statute of limitations rules and speak to a car accident lawyer as soon as possible.

Statute of Limitation Rules for Georgia Car Accidents

Georgia is a fault-based car accident state, meaning that negligent drivers must pay their victims’ damages in a collision they cause. If you are a car accident victim, you typically have two options for pursuing compensation: an insurance claim against the at-fault driver, or a personal injury lawsuit in Georgia civil court.

For personal injury lawsuits, Georgia maintains a two-year statute of limitations. This means that you must file your car accident lawsuit within two years of your accident. If you are only seeking compensation for property damage, you have four years from the date of the accident to file.

If you plan on filing a claim against a government agency, the deadlines are shorter. 

  • You have six months to file a claim for an accident involving a vehicle owned by a city or county government agency. 
  • You have one year to file a lawsuit against a state government agency.

Some localities have different rules, so speak with an attorney as soon as possible to identify your filing deadline.

Are Insurance Claims Subject to the Statute of Limitations?

Insurance claims are not subject to the statute of limitations, but you should still keep a two-year deadline in mind while pursuing your claim. If your insurance company does not offer you the settlement that you deserve, you may want to escalate your claim to a lawsuit to secure a higher award. 

However, if your insurance claim concludes after the two-year period is over, you will be unable to pursue a lawsuit. Filing an insurance claim as soon as possible after your car accident further preserves your legal options.

Are There Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations?

Although they are not common in car accident claims, there are some exceptions to Georgia’s statute of limitations rules. For example, the state may extend your filing deadline if you were under the age of 18 or mentally incapacitated at the time of the accident. The statute of limitations will begin on the day you turn 18 or the period of incapacitation ends. 

Additionally, if the at-fault driver leaves the state of Georgia at any time during the two-year statute of limitations period, the court will not count his or her absence toward your deadline. The clock will stop once the at-fault party leaves the state, and resume when he or she returns. 

Another exception is known as the date of discovery. If you could not have reasonably discovered an injury or medical condition until a later date, you will have two years from the date of discovery to file. When it comes to car accidents, however, this exception rarely applies, if at all. 

To preserve your right to compensation and identify your filing deadline, speak to an Augusta car accident attorney as soon as possible. Your lawyer can evaluate your case and help you take your first steps toward filing a claim.