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Statute of Limitations on Personal Injury Claims 

Kyle H. Jarzmik Law
"Personal injury claims" typed on retro typewriter

You've likely heard of the term "statute of limitations" before, but what does it actually mean? In short, a statute of limitations sets a deadline for when a person can set legal action into motion. This deadline varies depending on the type of claim and the state in which it is filed. 

In Georgia, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is typically two years from the date of the incident. This means that if you are injured in an accident, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a claim against the responsible party. 

But, just like life, the law is anything but black and white. There are exceptions and special circumstances that may affect the statute of limitations for your personal injury claim. 

Exceptions to the Rule

One notable exception is the concept of "tolling" the statute of limitations, which can effectively pause the countdown under certain conditions. For instance, if the injured party is a minor at the time of the accident, the clock may not start ticking until they reach the age of majority. This allows the individual to have a fair chance to pursue legal action once they are of age and better equipped to understand their rights and options (Georgia Code section 9-3-90).  

Similarly, if the defendant leaves the state after causing harm and before a lawsuit can be initiated, the period of their absence is generally excluded from the statute of limitations (Georgia Code section 9-3-94).  

Another less common scenario involves cases where the injury was not discovered—and could not reasonably have been discovered—immediately after the incident. In these instances, the statute may be extended to allow the lawsuit to be filed within a reasonable time frame after the injury is—or should have been—detected. This legal concept is known as the "discovery rule."  At Kyle H. Jarzmik Law, I can help you understand these exceptions and how they could apply to your case.

Why Does the Deadline Seem So Long?

If you've suffered an injury due to someone else's negligence, you might be thinking, "I have two years. Why should I rush?" I understand the sentiment, but it's not that simple. Evidence can disappear, memories can fade, and witnesses can become hard to contact over time. So, in reality, the sooner you start your claim, the better. 

The two-year deadline may seem long, but in many cases, it doesn't feel like enough time at all. For instance, if you are in a car accident where a lot of people are involved, it may take a long time to identify who was at fault. This process alone could eat up a significant portion of the two-year deadline. 

This is why it's so critical to enlist legal representation as soon as possible after your accident, especially if your injuries are serious. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you gather evidence, interview witnesses, and build a strong case within the statute of limitations. 

Essential Elements of Your Claim

To ensure that your personal injury claim stands the best chance of success, it's vital to understand the essential elements that must be established in your case. These elements serve as the cornerstones of personal injury law, and without them, your claim may falter. 


The first fundamental element to prove is negligence. You must demonstrate that the party at fault owed a duty of care to you and that they breached this duty through their actions or inactions. For example, all drivers have an obligation to operate their vehicles safely and follow the rules of the road to prevent accidents. 


Next, there needs to be a clear link between the responsible party's negligence and the injury you suffered; this is known as causation. It's not enough to show that the other party was negligent—you must illustrate how their negligence directly caused your injury. 


Lastly, you must have sustained damages due to the injury. Damages can include physical injuries, property damage, medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Documenting these damages is crucial, as any proof you can provide will directly impact the compensation you can recover. 

Understanding Modified Comparative Negligence

Before you file your claim, you need to know how Georgia's comparative negligence law may affect your case. In some personal injury cases, the injured party may also be partially at fault for the accident. For example, a pedestrian who was hit by a speeding car may have been crossing the street when they did not have the right of way. This is why many states adopt some version of a comparative negligence rule. 

In simple terms, comparative negligence is a system that determines how much compensation you can receive for an accident based on your percentage of fault. If you're partly at fault for the accident, this rule could reduce the amount of compensation you receive. 

What sets Georgia apart from some other states is the 'modified' part of the rule. In Georgia, if you're found to be 50% or more at fault for the accident, you won't be able to recover any damages. This is often called the '50% bar rule'. 

Let's say you were the pedestrian in that example I mentioned earlier. The jury determined that your total damages were $100,000. However, they also found that you were 30% at fault for your accident because you did not have the right of way. Under Georgia's modified comparative negligence rule, your damages would be reduced by 30%, leaving you with $70,000. 

So what does this have to do with the statute of limitations? Well, if you know you're partially at fault for your accident, you'll want as much time as possible for your attorney to investigate the incident and build your case. That way, you can present a strong argument and hopefully prevent the defendant from trying to shift more blame (and less compensation) onto you.  

How Do I File a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Georgia?

To file a personal injury lawsuit in Georgia, follow these steps: 

  1. Understand your rights and the legal procedures involved. Research and familiarize yourself with the laws and regulations governing personal injury cases in Georgia. 

  1. Consult with a trusted personal injury attorney in your area. Seek professional advice from an experienced lawyer who specializes in personal injury law. 

  1. Determine if you have a viable case and receive guidance from the attorney. Discuss the details of your situation with your attorney to assess the strength of your case and explore the available legal options. 

  1. Draft a complaint, outlining your injury, its cause, responsible parties, and the damages sought. Prepare a comprehensive document that clearly states the details of your injury, who you believe is at fault, and the compensation you are seeking. 

  1. File the complaint with the appropriate Georgia court within the two-year statute of limitations. Make sure to submit your complaint to the relevant court within the specified time limit to preserve your right to pursue legal action. 

  1. Serve a copy of the complaint to the defendant. Ensure that the defendant is properly and officially notified about the lawsuit by delivering a copy of the complaint with appropriate legal service. 

Remember, each personal injury case is unique, and it's important to consult with a qualified attorney to understand the specific requirements and procedures applicable to your situation in Georgia. 

Enlist Legal Support

If you have deadline concerns, I can help you understand how the statute of limitations pertains to your specific case. I serve clients across Fulton County, Cobb County, Dekalb County, Gwinnett County, Forsyth County, Douglas County, Coweta County, Carroll County, Lawrenceville, Cumming, and throughout the state of Georgia. My goal is to help you understand your rights and options and to fight for the compensation you deserve. 

Remember, the clock is always ticking in personal injury cases. Don't let time run out on your claim. Reach out to Kyle H. Jarzmik Law today, and let's discuss your case.