A statute of limitations is a law that essentially sets a deadline for you to pursue legal action against companies or individuals who may have caused you some injury or harm. If you fail to file a lawsuit within that time period, you may forever forfeit your right to pursue compensation for your injuries. These time limits can vary, depending on where you were injured and who or what caused the injury.
In general, the Georgia statute of limitations for personal injury claims is two years. If you think you may have a claim for personal injury, first check to be sure that you are within the 2 year time limit. However, be aware there are exceptions to the general rule, which are discussed below.
When does the clock start to run?
Logic would tell you that the clock starts to run on the date you were injured. In most cases, this is true. Sometimes, however, you may not be aware you were injured because the injury does not affect you immediately. In these cases, the rule of discovery comes into play. The rule simply means that the clock starts to run when you discover or become aware of the harm or injury, rather than when it actually occurred. Claims such as medical malpractice, worker's compensation, products liability, and other types of personal injuries may not be immediately apparent, and in some cases they may not become evident for years after the actual injury occurred.
Some circumstances may pause the statute of limitations clock even if you are aware of the injury. This can occur in cases where you suffer a period of incapacity or you are a minor. For example, if you fall into a coma after a truck accident, the statute of limitations is tolled, or paused, until you awake from the coma. For minors, the statute is usually tolled until the minor reaches the age of 18.
However, in some cases the law will prohibit you from bringing a lawsuit regardless of when you discovered the injury or how long you were incapacitated. Georgia recognizes a 5 year statute of repose for medical negligence claims. This means that if you are injured by a doctor or medical professional, you must bring the claim within 5 years of the medical procedure or diagnosis. If the symptoms of the injury only become apparent after 5 years, the claim is nevertheless forfeited.
When it comes to products liability, in Georgia, a 10 year statute of repose applies to strict liability claims beginning from the date of manufacture. This means that if you are injured by certain dangerous or defective products, you may only bring a lawsuit if the product was manufactured less than 10 years prior to the injury.
What if an employee or action of the government injured me?
State and Local Governments
Pre-suit notice is required before suing a government entity in Georgia. If pre-suit notice is not given within the required time period, you will not be permitted to file a lawsuit against that government entity. In Georgia, the statutes require notice to a county or state government within 1 year of the injury; notice to a city government is required within 6 months of the injury.
The Federal Government
In order to sue the United States for personal injury, you must go through an administrative process mandated by the Federal Tort Claims Act ("FTCA"). The administrative procedure involves the submission of a Form 95. You must present the Form 95 to the appropriate federal agency within 2 years. Submission of the form, under the rules of the FTCA, tolls the 2 year statute of limitations and triggers a moving statute of limitations.
Have you been injured by someone else's negligence?
Knowing which time period applies, as well as how to comply with the applicable notice procedure, can be difficult on your own. Likewise, the statutes of limitations vary from state to state. Therefore, you should always consult an attorney if you think you have a personal injury claim.
If you have a question about a personal injury you sustained as a result of someone else's negligence, send us an email or give us a call to schedule your free consultation. The Simmons Rogers, LLC law firm will analyze your claim to determine its merit and help you navigate your personal injury claim.
Simmons Rogers, LLC
Simmons Rogers, LLC is a full service civil law firm based in Atlanta, Georgia. We provide legal services as well as mediation and arbitration services, to businesses and individuals throughout the state of Georgia and beyond.
This blog is not intended to be a complete explanation of the law. Its purpose is to inform, not to advise on any specific legal problem or legal rights. If you have specific questions regarding any topic in this blog, you are encouraged to consult the Atlanta based law firm of Simmons Rogers, LLC or an attorney licensed in your