How Long Do I Have to Pursue a Personal Injury Claim?

Suffering a serious injury can be overwhelming and leave you unsure what to do next. It may be tempting to focus on your recovery and worry about your potential legal claim later. Unfortunately, if you wait too long, you could wind up unable to seek compensation for your injuries. The best thing you can do is consult with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. 

At Slappey & Sadd, we represent accident victims in the Atlanta area and across the state of Georgia. If you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence, we can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call us at 888-474-9616 or send us an email to schedule a free consultation to discuss how we can help you. 

The Timeline for Your Personal Injury Claim

Before we discuss any specific deadlines, you should first understand what is going to happen with your personal injury claim. If you’ve been injured, the first thing that will happen is that you will notify the responsible party of your claim. In turn, they will more than likely notify their insurance company that there is a potential claim that they will have to pay. This applies in any type of personal injury case – car accidents, slip and fall cases, or medical malpractice. 

Once the insurance company is notified of the claim, they will then begin their investigation. Once they have gathered the facts surrounding the incident, they will then evaluate whether their insured (the party responsible for your injury, i.e. the other driver, the property owner, or the health care provider) was, in fact, responsible for your claim. At that point, the insurance company and the other party may attempt to settle your claim for a specified dollar amount. 

All of this takes time. To complicate matters, insurance companies are notorious for making “lowball” settlement offers in an attempt to limit the amount of money they pay out in claims. Negotiating a reasonable settlement can take weeks, months, or even years. 

The Statute of Limitations

Every state has a deadline for filing lawsuits, and the deadline will vary according to the type of lawsuit you want to file. This deadline is referred to as the “statute of limitations” in legal jargon. In personal injury cases, the statute of limitations generally begins to run from either the date the injury is discovered, or more commonly, the date the incident that caused your injury occurred. 

The critical detail to understand is that once the statute of limitations has expired, you have lost your rights. This means that you cannot file suit no matter how strong your case is, even if the other party was grossly negligent. Even if you file your lawsuit, it will be dismissed almost immediately. 

In Georgia, the statute of limitations for a personal injury claim is two years from the date the incident occurred. There may be exceptions, but you should always assume two years applies to your case. 

Two Years is Less Time Than You Think

Filing a claim with the insurance company does not stop (or “toll”) the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations does not stop until you file a lawsuit with the court. You may not want or even be able to file a lawsuit right away. For that reason, you need to realize that two years isn’t a lot of time. We noted above that negotiating your claim with the insurance company can eat up a lot of time. You can be sure that the insurance company knows exactly when the statute of limitations expires and may use this to their advantage in negotiating your claim. For this reason, you may want to consider consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as you think you may have a claim so that they can help you manage the process and avoid missing the deadline. 

Injured? Contact the Atlanta Personal Injury Attorneys at Slappey & Sadd

If you’ve been injured and are in pain, time is unfortunately not on your side. The personal injury attorneys at Slappey & Sadd can help you navigate the claims process from start to finish so that you can get the compensation you need. Don’t wait until it’s too late – call us at 888-474-9616 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with one of our Georgia personal injury lawyers today.