Is It Too Late to File a Personal Injury Claim?
Injury & Accident Attorney Serving Nearby Areas of Columbus & Fort Benning, Georgia and Phenix City, Alabama
When people are injured in accidents, they don’t always immediately realize the severity of their injuries, and how much treatment they will need. But health insurance doesn’t cover everything, and your bills may quickly grow to more than you can afford, especially if you are unable to work until you recover. Your other daily expenses, including rent or mortgage, groceries, and so on, aren’t going to wait for you to get better, either.
That’s when you know you need to file a compensation claim.
Other times, injury victims know right off the bat they’re going to file a compensation claim, but they spend too much time trying to negotiate with the at-fault party’s insurance company on their own before realizing they’re going to need a lawyer.
Thankfully, you have a bit of time from the date of your injury in which to file a claim. This is known as the statute of limitations.
What’s the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims in Georgia?
After a personal injury, such as a car accident, slip and fall, or other injury caused by someone else, the victim has two years from the date of the injury to file a personal injury lawsuit.
The statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is also two years. However, in wrongful death cases, the time period in which you can file a claim is two years from the date of death, rather than date of injury, if the two are not the same.
What’s the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims in Alabama?
Alabama shares the same statute of limitations period as Georgia, meaning if someone is seriously injured or killed in an accident caused by someone else, the victim or the victim’s family have two years from the date of injury or death respectively to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party.
What Happens If I Miss the Deadline to File a Claim?
Once the statute of limitations is up, then in nearly all cases, your lawsuit will be thrown out by the courts and you won’t be able to recover any compensation. In other words, after two years, it’s usually too late to file a claim.
Does That Mean I Have Two Years to Alert My Insurance Company to an Accident?
No, the period in which you have to alert your insurance company you’ve been involved in an accident is unrelated to the statute of limitations set up for when you intend to file a lawsuit.
The time period in which you have to notify the insurance company is usually set by the contract. However, you should always inform them as soon as possible, even if that means telling them sooner than the contract requires you to.
It is also important to send the notice to your insurance company in writing when you intend to file a claim for compensation. If you make a phone call to your insurance company from the crash scene to let them know what happened, make sure to follow it up with written notice that you intend to file a claim.
If you need to file for compensation through your medical payments coverage or uninsured and underinsured motorists coverage, these two things become even more important.
At the Law Offices of Gary Bruce, we don’t agree with these extremely short notification periods imposed by insurance companies, and we will fight to get you the compensation you deserve regardless. However, to improve your chances, you should always contact an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible after your accident to make sure your claim is filed the right way.
Are There Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations?
In special circumstances, there may be exceptions to the statute of limitations. A few exceptions that may affect the statute of limitations include:
- When the victim is a minor: Since only legal adults can file lawsuits, parents typically file lawsuits on behalf of their injured children. However, when this doesn’t happen, the minor victim still has the right to file a lawsuit on their own behalf when they reach adulthood. This means the two-year time frame in which they can file a lawsuit does not start until they become a legal adult (age 18 in Georgia, age 19 in Alabama). This is called “tolling” the statute of limitations.
- When the victim is mentally incapacitated: If a victim suffers from brain trauma from an accident, resulting in temporary mental disability, the two-year time limit is likewise frozen until the victim is recovered enough to be considered mentally sound in court.
- When the injured party is a crime victim: When the victim was injured or killed as part of a criminal action, an extension to the personal injury statute of limitations may be granted until after the criminal case concludes.
- When either party is active duty member of the U.S. military: In these circumstances, the statute of limitations may also be “tolled” until the end of that term of service.
- When the injury is not discovered until after the time limit has run out: This applies to situations like when people develop mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer, after exposure to asbestos. This is because mesothelioma can often go undetected for decades after the initial exposure.
- When the at-fault party is a government employee or entity: In this case, the time in which you have to file a lawsuit may be dramatically shorter; even as short as six months from the date of injury. Additionally, a special form of paperwork called an “ante litem notice” must be filed first before a lawsuit could legally proceed. This kind of notice is particularly dangerous and often contested. You should talk to a lawyer immediately for advice about your particular case when making a claim against a government agency or employee.
Do You Have a Claim? Let Us Help.
When you or someone you love has been injured because of someone else’s negligence, you deserve compensation. But victims don’t always know they can get compensation, or how to get it, right after their accident.
If your injury was less than two years ago, we can get your claim filed and get you started on the path to compensation. If it’s been more than two years, but you think you may have a case for an extension, call a lawyer at the Law Offices of Gary Bruce today for a free case consultation. We will be more than happy to review your case to see if an exception may apply.
We have won many cases for clients even when they came to use after the statute of limitations had run out, and even after other lawyers had turned the case away.