Statute of Limitations in Atlanta Personal Injury Cases

In all injury or death cases, regardless of the state, limitations are placed by law regarding the time within which someone can file a lawsuit. These limitations are called statutes of limitations. They depend on a variety of things such as the age of the person injured. Typically, when the injured party is under 18 years old, for most claims except for medical malpractice claims; the statute of limitations is the time until their 18th birthday plus two years. Contact a knowledgeable personal injury attorney for more information on statute of limitations in Atlanta personal injury cases.

Typical Statute of Limitations

For most adults, the statute of limitations in Atlanta personal injury cases is two years from the date they first knew or should have known they had an injury associated with the other party’s wrongful conduct. For example, if a person is poisoned by asbestos exposure, they might not know they are injured for some years after their initial exposure to the asbestos.

The statute of limitations starts to run when they first knew or should have known that they had an injury associated with the product. In most cases involving malpractice, product liability, vehicle accidents, and other kinds of cases, the person has two years from the date of the injury within which to file suit. If he or she does not file suit within that timeframe, the claim is lost forever.

Statute of Repose

In addition to the statute of limitations, there are statutes of repose. A statute of repose is the absolute outside timeframe within which someone can file a lawsuit regardless of when they find out about the damages. These can include cases involving construction defects. For example, someone builds a deck on a person’s house and the deck collapses during a party and kills everybody.

When the investigation shows that the deck was not properly constructed, it is subject to a statute of repose. While someone would normally have two years from the date of the injury to file a claim against the builder, if that deck is, for example, nine years old, they might only have one year because of the ten-year statute of repose.

Product Liability Statute

Product liability cases are similar. Ten years after a machine is first sold for use, a claim can no longer be filed against the manufacturer except for defective warnings. The first thing a personal injury lawyer wants to know is the age of the machine. They assume the machine is nine years old and ten months, and do everything necessary to get the suit filed or otherwise prove that it is not subject to the statute of repose.

When the lawyer determines there is no statute of repose problem, they look at the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is a timeframe within which all lawsuits must be filed. In addition, there are statutes of repose that competent legal counsel knows about.

Claims Against Government Entities

When the claim is against a governmental entity, the lawyer is sometimes required send the entity an ante litem notice. Ante litem notices depend on whether the entity is a city or a state. The ante litem notice must be sent out faster than a statute of repose or statute of limitations in Atlanta personal injury cases. If someone fails to meet the ante litem requirements set forth by the Constitution and laws of Georgia, they lose their claim against the state or governmental entity. All of these time limits must be kept in mind.

Determining a Claim

If a person has a question about the value of their claim, the extent of their claim, or whether their claim even exists, they should always call a lawyer early. The lawyer can help them understand the nature of their potential claim. As a general rule, the time limits begin to run when the person knew or should have known about a connection between their injury or illness and the unlawful conduct of the person, corporation, or government that caused their injury.

Resolved Within the Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitation relates to when the lawsuit is filed and does not relate to when the case must be resolved. For example, a lawyer might file a lawsuit 18 months after the event, which means only six months are left on the statute of limitations. It might take another two years for the case to end if it goes to trial. The statute of limitations in Atlanta personal injury cases relates only to the timing of the filing of a lawsuit, it does not relate to when the case must conclude.

The earlier a lawsuit is filed the better because that gives certain options with respect to dismissing a lawsuit which is sometimes to the client’s advantage. The lawyer can then re-file the case with another judge or court if they believe that to be in their client’s best interest. For certain kinds of lawsuits, that can be done only within the statute of limitations.