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  • How Long Will my Case Take? Attorney Todd Henningsen discusses what factors affect how long a personal injury case may take.
  • Jury Trial vs. Settlement Mr. Henningsen talks about how a personal injury lawyer from the firm will be able to see whether or not taking the settlement would be the best option for you or if you should go to court.
  • Seeking Compensation Mr. Henningsen talks about seeking compensation if you have been involved in a personal injury related accident.
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How Long Do I Have to File a Personal Injury Claim in Georgia?

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How Long Do I Have to File a Personal Injury Claim in Georgia?

One of the most common questions that is asked of a personal injury lawyer is, "How long do I have to bring my personal injury claim?" Or asked another way, "What is the Statute of Limitations on my Georgia personal injury claim?" This straightforward question does not always have a straightforward answer as it depends upon a variety of factors. First and foremost, remember that personal injury includes the following: wrongful death, automobile accidents, slip and fall, trip and fall, motorcycle accidents, tractor trailer accidents, etc. The typical statute of limitations for a personal injury claim in Georgia is two years. See O.C.G.A. section 9-3-33. However there are exceptions which can SHORTEN or EXTEND the two year statute of limitations.

Situations that will SHORTEN the two year personal injury statute of limitations in Georgia:

1. ONE YEAR - Personal injury claim against the State of Georgia or its employees (examples: car wreck where the other driver is employed by the State of Georgia, slip and fall in a State owned building; claim for medical malpractice against a state owned hospital). In this situation the claim falls under the Georgia Tort Claims Act ('GTCA"). See O.C.G.A. section 50-21-26(a)(1). The GTCA requires that notice (sometimes referred to as ante litem notification) be given within one year from the date of the incident. The notice must meet the requirements as outlined in the GTCA and if it does not the claim may be barred forever.

2. ONE YEAR - Personal Injury claim against a County in the State of Georgia (examples: car wreck with a county sheriff, trip and fall on a sidewalk owned and maintained by a county). Similar to a claim against the State of Georgia, when pursuing a claim against a county the claimant must provide notice (ante litem notification) to the county pursuant to O.C.G.A. section 36-11-1 within one year of the date of the incident. The notice must meet the requirements as outlined in the code section and if it does not the claim may be forever barred.

3. SIX MONTHS - Personal Injury claim against a City or its Employees in the State of Georgia (examples: car wreck with a city police officer, claim of medical negligence against a city owned hospital). Similar to the exceptions above, notice must be provided to the city within six months of the incident. See O.C.G.A. section 36-33-5. The notice must meet the requirements as outlined in the statute and if the city is not properly notified within the six month period it may be barred forever.

4. ONE YEAR - Claim for Injury to Reputation. Claims for injury to your reputation, such as defamation or libel have a shortened statute of limitations and must be brought within one year. See O.C.G.A. section 9-3-33.

Situations that may LENGTHEN the two year personal injury statute of limitations in Georgia:

1. Minors - the two year statute of limitations does not begin to run until the minor reaches the age of 18. O.C.G.A. sections 9-3-90 and 9-3-98. BUT BEWARE!! A minor's claim in Georgia traditionally includes the medical bills that the parents incurred on the minor's behalf for the injury. The two year statute of limitations for the medical bills is not lengthened because it is the parent's claim to bring, not the minor's. Best practices are to bring the minor's personal injury claim within two years to ensure that the medical bills are included in the claim.

2. Incompetency - If a person was LEGALLY declared incompetent at the time of the injury, the two year statute of limitations does not begin to run until the incompetency is removed. O.C.G.A. sections 9-3-90 and 9-3-98. This is a very narrow exception and it must be proven that the person was legally incompetent which can be difficult to prove.

3. Estate of the Decedent - In a wrongful death claim, the statute of limitations may be extended by the amount of time that it took from the time of the death of the decedent until the estate becomes represented by either an executor or an administrator. O.C.G.A. sections 9-3-92 and 9-3-98. But again watch out, the period cannot be extended longer than five years and will begin to run after the five year period. Thus, if you have a wrongful death claim it is wise that it be brought as soon as possible.

4. Prosecution of underlying crime - The running of the statute of limitations can be extended for the amount of time it takes from the injury to occur to the prosecution of the underlying crime to become final. This applies in many car accident claims where the other driver was ticketed for the car wreck. If this is the case, then it is possible to have the statute of limitations extended for the amount of time that it took for the prosecution of the traffic ticket to become final. The case is Beneke v. Parker (667 S.E.2d 97) and it was interpreting a Georgia Statute found at O.C.G.A. section 9-3-99. This may be a narrow exception to the statute of limitations in Georgia, but it can be very useful if applied properly.

It is important that if you have specific questions regarding the statute of limitations and its applicability to your case, you should get in touch with a personal injury lawyer in Atlanta immediately. Claims of wrongful death and serious personal injury claims should be pursued as fast as possible to avoid any situation where it could be barred.

What People Are Saying About Henningsen Injury Attorneys

"Todd worked on my case non-stop for almost three years and reached a great settlement at the end. It was a complicated case (motorcycle accident) and he worked very hard on it . He carries himself very well and is very knowledgeable. He does his homework and research on your case down to the last detail. I would highly recommend this attorney for any personal injury case! Great honest man!!"

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