Auto accidents injuries leave families with financial hardships when at-fault drivers don’t have adequate insurance. According to statistics, the hours of midnight to 3 am on weekend nights are when more auto accidents are likely to occur. In 2016, there were 37, 461 fatal car accidents reported to law enforcement. Studies also suggest that around 26.7% of drivers in the US don’t have auto insurance. Uninsured motorists increase the odds of an auto accident-related lawsuit. Before starting a lawsuit, answer the question, “Is there a limit regarding how much time you have to file a claim?”

The Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents

O.C.G.A. Section 9-3-33 defines a statute of limitations for all personal injury cases which include car accidents and other motor vehicle-related accidents. First, all adults who are at least 18 years of age face a statute of limitations of two years. This means that if you are an adult when at the time of the accident you file a lawsuit for your injuries or losses before the second anniversary of your accident. If you don’t file before the anniversary, you give up any rights to compensation.

The state statute of limitations doesn’t apply to victims initially if they are under the age of 18. A tolling provision applies for minor victims, and the statute doesn’t begin until he or she is eighteen. This means that if you were 16 at the time of the accident, you aren’t subject to the limitations of the statute for two years. After you turn 18, you have two additional years during which you must start your personal injury claim. It is beneficial for you to hire a  car accident lawyer to help you start your claim and seek damages from the responsible party.

The Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Due to a Car Accident

In a wrongful death lawsuit, the statute of limitations starts on the date in which the victim dies. It is not limited to the date of the accident unless the victim died on the scene or after arriving at the hospital. The family of the deceased victim files a lawsuit before the second anniversary of their loved one’s death. The age of the deceased doesn’t apply under the statute of limitations, and the clock starts ticking even if the victim is a minor.

The Statute of Limitations and the Discovery Rule

The discovery rule applies when injuries are discovered beyond the scope of the statute of limitations. It applies if a doctor finds a new condition or injury within a reasonable time of discovery after the accident. For example, in traumatic brain injuries cases, it is possible for doctors to find a linking condition up to a year or more later.

The original statute of limitations wouldn’t apply if your doctor found the condition after the first diagnosis. The discovery rule extends the original statute from the day of the accident to the date in which the new injuries are found.

The discovery rule applies in wrongful death cases if a new injury is found and/or if the new injury causes the victim to die. In wrongful death claims, a forensic pathologist examines the victim’s body and discovers if the original injuries or an undiscovered injury caused the victim’s death.

The court enforces personal injury laws after victims sustain injuries in auto accidents. Under the laws, victims have the legal right to file a lawsuit to seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and auto repair costs. The laws require the victim or their family to start a lawsuit before the statute of limitation runs out. Knowing the statute of limitations that apply to your car accident case helps you file a lawsuit appropriately and prevents you from giving up your rights unintentionally.