In general, the statute of limitations for a Georgia personal injury case or wrongful death case is two (2) years from the date of the injury or death. You must file suit by the statute of limitations date or your case is forever void. However, there are certain exceptions that can limit or extend that period.
“Tolling”, which refers to extensions of the statute of limitations, can occur for incapacity, minority age or fraud. The statute of limitations may also be extended if an injury/medical problem or product defect could not have been reasonably “discovered” within the statute of limitations. Georgia recognizes a 5 year statute of repose for medical negligence claims, and a 10 year statute of repose applies from the date of manufacture for strict liability claims.
Irrespective of the statute of limitations, there are other deadlines which can invalidate one’s case. Many government bodies are entitled to six or twelve month “ante litem notice” deadlines. A claimant must send notice to a government entity responsible for the injury by this deadline or he or she can forever lose the right to bring a claim.
As stated, once the statute of limitations has expired, a claim is void. Courts almost never forgive a failure to file suit by the statute of limitations date. Because of this, most attorneys will not accept cases that are within six (6) months of the statute of limitations date. An attorney does not want to be responsible for investigation, drafting, filing suit and serving defendants on short notice because if something goes wrong, that attorney could be held legally liable. Courts are very unforgiving on statute of limitations issues, and the rules are very complicated.
Accordingly, it is more prudent to speak to an attorney about your case sooner rather than later. Statutes of limitations are enacted because legislatures understand that evidence is perishable, memories fade over time and meritorious cases should be pursued with zeal. In this framework, a lawyer can do a more competent, professional job for a client if he has ample time to secure evidence and formulate his strategy.
If you would like a free, no obligation consultation, Scholle Law can help. From a main office in Gwinnett County, we serve clients from offices in Midtown and the Perimeter and represent victims throughout Atlanta and Georgia. To set up your free consultation, send the firm a message online or call toll-free at 866-972-5287 or in Atlanta at 770-717-5100.