You have been seriously injured in an accident, and understandably you have focused on your medical care and physical and mental recovery. But as time moves on, and the hospital, doctor, therapy, and other medical services bills start to arrive in your mailbox, you realize that you’re going to need some financial help. You may think, it’s time to consider asking the person responsible for your injuries help pay your medical costs and cover the income you’ve lost due to your injuries.
Time is critical
It’s important for you to understand that the law does not allow you indefinite time to pursue your legal remedies. Personal injury matters are torts. Torts are wrongful acts that cause injury to a person or property for which the injured party may be compensated. Limitations are imposed on tort actions that fix the time during which an injured person can file a lawsuit against a wrongdoer. The limits are called statutes of limitation, and every state has laws providing the time period for various causes of action.
In Georgia the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is two years from the date of the injury. If that sounds to you like a very short amount of time, you’re right, and the short limit is purposeful. While governments and courts want to allow time for you to become well enough to pursue legal recourse and know the extent of the damage done to you, they also want to encourage people to seek their remedies promptly and without undue delay. Memories fade; witnesses move away or die; the conditions present at the time of the injury change, all dynamics that can weaken the quality of evidence that can be put forth in support or defense of a legal claim. The sooner a case is started after an injury, the more plentiful and accurate the evidence is likely to be.
Factors that start or stop the clock running
Statutes of limitation are not always as cut and dried as they appear. There are some factors that start the clock on the time limitation and others that may “toll” the statute—meaning to stop the exhaustion of the time limit.
The countdown usually starts at the moment you experience an injury, but the Georgia statute states that the time limitation doesn’t begin until the accrual of claims. A personal injury is considered to accrue on the date the injury and its cause are known or should have been known through reasonable diligence.
Factors that can toll the statute include:
- The injured party is a minor
- The injured party is mentally incompetent
In these circumstances, the clock is stopped until the child reaches the age of majority or the injured person regains his or her mental capacity.
Also, if one or more of the potential defendants to your lawsuit is a body of government, the statute of limitation is reduced to 12 months or less in which you can file your legal action.
As you can see, issues pertaining to statutes of limitation are complex and application can vary depending on the circumstances of your particular case. To avoid jeopardizing your ability to sue and recover for your injuries and other damages, you should consult an attorney as soon as possible after the accident that caused your injuries.
The Angell Law Firm is expert in personal injury law. The firm’s attorneys can advise you on the merits of your case and help you obtain the compensation. Call (770) 217-4954 today for a free consultation with an Angell attorney. Don’t jeopardize your case by delaying until it’s too late. The Angell Law Firm is located in Atlanta and serves Chatham County, including Savannah; Clarke County including Athens; Cobb County, including Marietta; DeKalb County, including Decatur and Stone Mountain; Fulton County, including Atlanta, College Park, and Roswell; Gwinnett County including Buford, Lawrenceville, and Norcross; and Oconee County, including Watkinsville.