It’s date night. That one night out of the week where you and your spouse get to spend an evening together without worrying about the kids. You truly look forward to these evenings where you get to talk about adult things. But most importantly, you get to eat your food while it is still hot! The babysitter arrives so you are on your way. As you head down Sixes Road, already enjoying a grown-up conversation (albeit about how much you miss the kids already) a car runs through a stop sign and hits you from the side. You are hurt.
Fortunately, you are back to your old self in less than a year. The at-fault driver’s insurance adjuster wants to talk to you about your legal claims for your medical expenses and your pain and suffering. You think to yourself, “this wreck was clearly their fault. Surely I can handle this claim on my own.” The adjuster sends you an “authorization” to allow the insurance company to get your medical records. As you look the document over, you notice that it is not limited to getting just the records from the treatment you received related to this wreck. Why would the adjuster want access to all of your medical records? Why does this authorization allow the adjuster to get your employment records as well? Feeling uneasy about signing this release, you decide to obtain your medical records to submit your claim. Who knew it could be this difficult to get your OWN medical records and bills? Now the HR department at work is taking forever to produce a lost wages statement. Ugh. Who has time for all of this? Then it happens. You receive a letter from the insurance company informing you that you no longer have a claim against the person who caused the wreck because the Statute of Limitation has expired. What?!
One of the most difficult conversations we have with folks is when they come to our office seeking help too late. Through these conversations, we have learned that many people are not aware of what a “statute of limitation” is or how it affects your legal rights. Generally speaking, Georgia’s Statute of Limitation requires that all claims for personal injury must be brought within 2 years of the date of the wrongful act. Bringing a “claim” does not mean notifying the at-fault driver’s insurance company that you were hurt. Nor does it mean that you submit your settlement claim within the 2 year period. “Bringing a claim” means a lawsuit must be filed and served on the at-fault party within this 2-year period. Failing to do so results in forfeiting all legal claims you have against the at-fault driver. This statute is unforgiving. Filing your lawsuit just one day after the 2-year statute expires will result in your claim being dismissed.
Like all good statutes, though, there is an exception to the general rule. If the person who caused your injury was prosecuted by law enforcement for the behavior that caused your injury, the 2-year period does not begin to run until after the criminal case has ended. Traffic citations are included as “criminal prosecutions.” In other words, if you are injured in a wreck that happens on February 1, 2016, but the at-fault driver pled guilty to running the stop sign on March 15, 2016, you actually have until March 15, 2018, to file and serve your lawsuit. If you have a claim for personal injuries arising from a car wreck, the attorneys and staff at Tidwell Strimban can help. We can remove all of the stress and anxiety of dealing with the insurance company. We will navigate this complex system for you, making sure you receive the just compensation you deserve; allowing you to focus on one simple thing – getting better.