Understanding The Statute of Limitations in Personal Injury Cases

Under Georgia law, a person who suffers bodily injuries and other losses as a result of a third party’s actions has the right to file a personal injury claim and recover damages. However, the claim needs to be filed within a period of two years in most cases – failing which the victim will lose the right to seek restitution for their injuries and other losses.

Personal Injury Statute of Limitations in Georgia

According to Section 9-3-33 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA), a person who is harmed by the negligence of another person or entity can file a claim within a period of two years – starting from the date on which the accident took place.

The two-year time limit is applicable to all types of personal injury claims – from dog bite claims to slip and fall claims, defective product claims, automobile accident claims, and more.

It should be noted that the two-year time limit is only applicable for claims in which the at-fault party is an individual, a group of people, or a private organization. If you want to sue a government agency – at the local, city, or state level – the time limit for filing a claim is much shorter.

Statute of Limitations for Filing a Claim against a Government Agency in Georgia

Under Georgia law, if you want to sue a government agency responsible for your injuries, you are required to give notice to the agency in order to let them know that you intend to file a claim against them. This notice is called an anti-litem notice.

The time limit for sending the anti-litem notice can be anywhere from six months to one year – depending on the agency you plan to sue. The notice must contain the following information.

  • When, where, and how the accident happened
  • The injuries you suffered
  • The government agency’s negligence that led to your injuries
  • The amount of compensation you are seeking for your injuries

If you fail to send the notice within the specified period of time, you will lose your right to sue the agency in question – even if you file a claim within two years.

Consequences of Missing the Deadline for Filing a Personal Injury Claim in Georgia

If you are unable to file a claim within two years, you will lose the right to sue the at-fault party and recover compensation for your injuries. If you try and file a claim anyway, all the at-fault party needs to do is to point out the fact that you have missed the deadline for filing the claim and the court will summarily dismiss your case.

Exceptions to Georgia’s Personal Injury Statute of Limitations

There are a few circumstances under which the deadline for filing a personal injury claim can be extended. These include:

  • If you were under the age of 18 when the accident happened, you have two years – starting from the day on which you turn 18 – to file a claim.
  • If you were mentally incapacitated at the time of the accident, you have two years – starting from the day on which you are declared mentally competent by a qualified medical professional – to file a claim.
  • If the at-fault party leaves Georgia before you can file a claim, you have two years – starting from the day on which the at-fault party returns to reside in Georgia – to file a claim.
  • If the injury in question could not have been discovered within a two-year period (applicable to medical negligence and malpractice cases).

Why You Should Contact a Georgia Personal Injury Attorney Right after the Accident

Building a personal injury case is not an easy task. Your attorney might have to investigate the accident, talk to witnesses, work with various experts, and collect a wide range of documents in order to get the evidence they need to establish the liability of the at-fault party.

The longer you wait, the harder it will be for the attorney to collect the evidence they need to build a strong case. So, you should get in touch with a personal injury attorney – preferably someone who is experienced in handling claims similar to yours – as soon as you possibly can after the accident.

Looking to File a Personal Injury Claim in Georgia? We Can Help!

At Stein & Fox, we know what it takes to recover damages in a personal injury case. Over the last 40 years, we have represented thousands of clients, handled an exceptionally wide range of personal injury claims, and recovered more than $130 million in damages.

We have the expertise, resources, and experience needed to provide you with the highest level of legal representation and achieve the best possible outcome.

To discuss your claim with one of our experienced Georgia personal injury lawyers, call our firm today at 770-961-1700 or contact us online and schedule a free consultation.

Are You Still Eligible for Compensation If You Did Not Have Your Seatbelt on During a Crash?

If you have been injured in an automobile accident, and if you did not have your seat belt on when the accident happened, you might be wondering whether you are eligible to be compensated for your injuries.

The short answer to your question is – yes. Georgia law does allow you to seek compensation for your injuries and other losses – even if you were not wearing your seatbelt at the time of the accident.

The Seatbelt Law in Georgia

Section 40-8-76.1 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) – commonly referred to as the seatbelt law – states that drivers and front seat occupants of passenger vehicles must wear a seatbelt.

However, the seatbelt law cannot be used against you in an automobile accident claim for two important reasons.

Firstly, there are exceptions to the seatbelt law. These include:

  • Drivers who need to make frequent stops to deliver goods or for other purposes – while not exceeding the speed limit of 15 mph
  • Drivers or passengers who are unable to wear a seatbelt due to a medical condition
  • Drivers reversing their vehicle
  • Drivers delivering newspapers and magazines
  • Drivers performing an emergency service
  • People who drive vehicles that were made before 1965
  • Letter carriers employed by the United States Postal Service

If you fit into any of the aforementioned categories, you are exempted from the seatbelt law.

Secondly, and more importantly, section 40-8-76.1 of the OCGA explicitly states that violation of the law (failing to wear a seatbelt) does not constitute negligence on the victim’s part.

Does it mean that not wearing a seatbelt does not have any effect on your automobile accident claim? Certainly not. It can make it harder for you to recover the maximum amount of compensation for your injuries.

The Modified Comparative Negligence Doctrine in Georgia

Georgia follows a modified version of the comparative negligence doctrine, under which you have the right to seek compensation for your injuries as long as you were 49% or less at fault for the accident. If you are found to be 50% at fault, you lose the right to recover compensation from the at-fault party.

Also, the amount of compensation awarded to you will be reduced in proportion to the degree or extent to which you were at fault. For example, if you are awarded $200,000 for your injuries, and if you are found to be 20% at fault for the accident, your compensation will be reduced by 20% and you will only receive $160,000.

This is the reason why insurance companies in Georgia tend to use the seatbelt defense – the argument that the victim contributed to their own injuries by failing to wear a seatbelt.

As mentioned above, the seatbelt defense cannot be used to deny your claim, since the law clearly states that not wearing a seatbelt does not constitute negligence. However, the insurance company will make the argument that you are to be partially blamed for the accident and your compensation should be reduced proportionately.

For example, if they manage to convince the jury that you were at 25% fault for the accident, you will lose 25% of your compensation, which is unfair to say the least. This is precisely why you need an experienced personal injury lawyer by your side.

How a Georgia Automobile Accident Lawyer Can Help You

Depending on the circumstances that led to the accident, an experienced automobile accident attorney can counter the seatbelt defense by making the following arguments.

  • You are exempted from the seatbelt law (if you fit into any of the categories listed above).
  • The impact of the crash was such that you would have sustained serious injuries even if you had worn your seatbelt.
  • You cannot be accused of failing to mitigate your injuries by not wearing a seatbelt, since it only applies to the actions you take after the accident.
  • The argument that you would not have suffered severe injuries if you had worn a seatbelt is more of a conjecture than an established fact. So, it is unfair to reduce your compensation based on it.

Choose the Right Georgia Automobile Accident Attorney to Handle Your Claim

For over 40 years, the personal injury attorneys at Stein & Fox have been fighting for the rights of injury victims in Georgia. We have represented thousands of clients over the years and have recovered more than $130 million in damages.

We can investigate your accident, collect the evidence required to establish the at-fault party’s liability, counter their allegations against you, and fight hard to recover the maximum amount of compensation possible through negotiation or litigation.

To find out how we can help you with your automobile accident claim, call our firm today at 770-961-1700 or contact us online and schedule a free consultation with one of our accomplished Georgia personal injury attorneys.

Who Is Responsible for Work-Related Auto Accidents?

Determining liability in work-related automobile accidents can be a difficult task. Depending on whether or not the driver in question was on the job when the accident happened and the factors that contributed to the accident, multiple parties can be held liable for the resulting injuries.

Determining Liability in Work Related Automobile Accidents

Depending on how the crash occurred and what were the specific causes behind it, the following parties can be held liable for your injuries and financial losses.

The Driver

If the accident was caused directly as a result of the driver’s negligence, they can be held liable for your injuries. Common examples of driver negligence include:

  • Speeding
  • Distracted driving
  • Reckless or aggressive driving
  • Driving while drunk or under the influence of a controlled substance
  • Violating traffic signals
  • Failing to yield the right of way
  • Failing to signal while changing lanes or while making a turn
  • Failing to check blind spots while changing lanes or while making a turn

Employer Accidents Caused by Delivery Trucks

If you were injured by a delivery truck belonging to Amazon, UPS, FedEx, and other such companies, it is important to find out whether their negligence played a role in the accident.

For instance, if the driver who caused the accident did not have sufficient experience or training to be hired as a delivery driver in the first place, the company might be guilty of negligent hiring, in which case they can also be held liable for your injuries.

Similarly, if the driver was sleep deprived and fatigued at the time of the accident and if it is found that they were forced to work long hours without taking sufficient breaks in between, the company can be held liable for your injuries.

Accidents Caused by Commercial Trucks

Truck companies in Georgia are required to comply with a number of federal regulations. These include:

  • Hours of service regulations
  • Substance abuse testing regulations
  • Regular inspections of the vehicle
  • Specifications regarding the amount of cargo to be transported

The entire list of regulations can be found here.

If the truck company is found to be in violation of one of more of the aforementioned regulations, they can be held liable for your injuries.

Accidents Caused by Ridesharing Vehicles

Rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft have auto insurance policy programs that cover the drivers who work for them. The drivers, however, are covered only when they are on the job. Here is how it works.

  • If you were injured by an Uber or Lyft driver while they were offline (if their app was switched off), you can only file a claim against the driver – not the company they work for.
  • If you were injured by an Uber or Lyft driver while their app was switched on and they were waiting for a ride, the company’s auto insurance policy will kick in. You can receive up to $50,000 for bodily injuries and $25,000 for property damage.
  • If you were injured by an Uber or Lyft driver while they were on their way to pick up a passenger or while they had a passenger, the company will pay you up to $1 million in damages (depending on the extent of your injuries).

Auto Part Manufacturer

If the accident was caused by a defective part, the manufacturer can be held liable for your injuries. If, on the other hand, the accident was caused as a result of a worn-out part or mechanical failure caused by lack of maintenance, the employer or the party responsible for maintaining the vehicle can be held liable for your injuries.

Choose the Right Georgia Automobile Accident Lawyer to Handle Your Claim

As you can see, determining liability in a work-related automobile accident is not easy. Moreover, the companies that employ these drivers will do everything they possibly can to deny their liability, as they know that they might have to pay hundreds of thousands – or even millions – in damages if their negligence is established. This is why it is extremely important for you to be represented by an experienced automobile accident lawyer who can provide you with high-quality, aggressive legal representation.

At Stein & Fox, we know how to handle work-related auto accident claims. We have the resources to investigate and identify all the liable parties and gather the evidence needed to establish their negligence. We can stand up to the scare tactics of insurance companies and fight relentlessly to get you the compensation you deserve.

To discuss your work-related auto accident claim with one of our Georgia personal injury attorneys, call us today at 770-961-1700 or write to us online and schedule a free case evaluation.