If you or someone you love was a victim of misdiagnosis, negligence or malpractice, it may be time to take legal action. Before filing a personal injury lawsuit in Georgia’s court system, it’s crucial to make sure you’re in compliance with the statute of limitations for these kinds of cases. A ‘statute of limitations’ is defined as a law which sets a limited legal window of opportunity during which an injured party has the opportunity to file a lawsuit.
Georgia Code section 9-3-33 gives any individual injured by the negligence of a medical professional two years from the date of the injury or death to file an ‘action for injuries to the person.’ This statute of limitations deadline applies to almost every type of personal injury lawsuit. This also means you must file by the date, or your case will be void forever. However, there are certain exceptions that could limit or even extend that period of time.
There are a variety of different scenarios that might warrant a change in timeline, effectively extending the two-year deadline set by the Georgia Code. This is one of the main reasons why you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney to help navigate the situation as quickly as possible. Some examples include:
- When the defendant leaves the state of Georgia after the underlying accident, and before the plaintiff can file the lawsuit and serve the defendant with the necessary legal documents, the time of the absence probably won’t be counted as part of the two years until the defendant ‘returns to reside’ in Georgia. This is according to Georgia Code section 9-3-94.
- When the injured person was a minor or was ‘legally incompetent because of intellectual disability or mental illness’ at the time of the accident the two year clock won’t begin to run until the person turns 18 or the period of incompetence is declared over. This is according to Georgia Code section 9-3-90.
Additionally, Georgia has a ‘state of repose’ that further limits a patient’s ability to file a malpractice claim against a medical professional. According to this statute, the injured patient has a maximum of five years to file a lawsuit after the date of the incident that caused the injury. Even if injury is not discovered until a later time, a lawsuit will not be valid because of the statute of repose.
Georgia’s statute of repose works alongside discovery or ‘tolling’ rules and sets a broader, more strictly enforced filing deadline that encompasses situations where a patient could not have reasonably discovered that they were harmed and/or had the right to take legal action.
We know this is a lot of information and statute of limitations can seem daunting or confusing. Bell Law Firm is here to answer your questions and help you navigate this important time.