In Georgia, car accident claims, motorcycle accident claims, and all other legal claims related to collisions should be filed as soon as possible after the accident. If you wait too long to file a claim, you risk missing a deadline or weakening your case. And, before you file a claim at all, you need to report the accident itself. For example:
- Call police and report the accident immediately at the scene of the accident itself. Never agree to “keep this between us” or leave without reporting it.
- Call the insurance company and say you’d like to make a claim as soon as possible—the same day as the accident if you’re able.
For how long you have to file a claim, there are two answers: there’s the legal deadline, and then there’s what’s best if you want to win your case. We’ll look at both of these below.
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The Legal Deadline to File Your Claim (Statute of Limitations)
A statute of limitations is a law that says how long a person has to bring forward a legal action. These laws present firm deadlines for filing your claim. In Georgia, most car accidents follow simple deadlines:
- You generally have 2 years from the date of the accident to file claims for injuries (liability)
- You generally have 4 years from the date of the accident to file claims for property damage (car repairs)
These deadlines can be different in some cases. For example, if you were 16 when the accident happened, the deadlines above don’t start until you turn 18. So you get much more time than the two- and four-year periods listed.
If the accident involved a government vehicle, however, like a police car or a Parks Department truck, the timelines can be much shorter. For example:
- If it was a city or county vehicle, you may have only 6 months
- If it was a state vehicle, you may have only 1 year
- If it was a federal government vehicle, you must first file an administrative claim with the government department in question. You must do this within 2 years of the accident. If they reject your claim, you have only 6 months to file in court.
The Best Timeline for Filing Your Case
The deadlines above represent the longest you can legally wait to file a claim in court. However, it’s not advisable to wait any longer than you have to. The best thing you can do after your accident is schedule a free meeting with a lawyer immediately, get a professional opinion, and then take next steps within days. This is because:
- Over time, details of an accident become harder to remember and harder to investigate
- Witnesses become harder to find the longer you wait
- The insurance company will argue that you must not have been badly injured if it took you so long to take action
- Preparing a case takes time, and you want as much time as possible to ensure that you have a strong legal claim
If you’ve already waited months, or even a year or more, you should still speak to a lawyers—cases can be and are won even after time goes by. But your case is strongest, with the most evidence available, when it’s fresh. If possible, call a lawyer the same day as your accident.
Have you been injured? John Foy & Associates offers a free consultation with some of the most experienced and respected personal injury lawyers in Georgia. Fill out the form to your right or call us at 404-400-4000 to get your FREE consultation today.