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. Before you file a claim at all, you need to report the accident itself. For example:
- Call the 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.
A legal deadline dictates how long you have to file your claim, but you may want to file it earlier if it will help your case. We’ll look at both of these situations below.
[arve thumbnail=”17171″ url=”https://www.johnfoy.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/John-Foy-reporting-a-car-accident-in-time.mp4″ title=”How Long do You Have to Report a Car Accident?” description=”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 the next steps within days.” upload_date=”08-24-2019″]
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. 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.
Accidents Involving Rideshare Companies Like Uber and Lyft
Another complication you may encounter is when the opposing driver works for a rideshare company such as Uber or Lyft. Often, there are additional elements that must be considered when filing a claim and determining the proper defendant. For example, the driver may be personally liable for your damages if they are not “on the clock” or have not activated their Uber or Lyft app. On the other hand, you may be able to file against the rideshare company itself if the court finds that their policies encouraged dangerous driving, or if their insurance policies cover their drivers’ accidents.
As always, it is best to consult with an experienced Georgia car crash lawyer before deciding when, how, and who to sue for compensation.
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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 trained legal opinion, and then take the next steps within days.
- 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 lawyer. Cases can be and are won even after time goes by. Still, your case is strongest and the most evidence is available to support your claim when it’s fresh. If possible, call a lawyer the same day as your accident.
What You Need to File Your Car Accident Claim
When filing an auto collision claim, you’ll want to have as much information and evidence as possible. This helps your attorney understand the details of your case and the strength of your claim. Try to gather evidence such as:
- Videos or photos of the accident scene
- Statements from eyewitnesses
- Information about the other driver, including insurance policy data and contact information
- Medical records of your injuries and various types of care you have received
- Locations of nearby traffic or surveillance cameras that may have captured the incident
More information often allows you to tell your story to the court without the defense being able to nay-say your narrative. Thus, having more evidence can make the difference between a small settlement and a compensation package that truly fits your needs.
Speak With a Georgia Auto Accident Attorney for Help Filing Your Claim
Have you been injured in an auto accident? John Foy & Associates offers a free consultation with some of the most experienced and respected personal injury lawyers in Georgia. At your consultation, we’ll discuss the details of your claim, sift through available evidence, and provide legal advice on how to proceed. If we take on your case, you can rest easy knowing that the “Strong Arm” is working to get you the compensation you truly deserve. Fill out the form to your right or call us at 404-400-4000 to get your FREE consultation today.