The legal definition of “statute of limitations” is the period within which an individual or group must initiate legal action for an injury, if he or she does not wish to forfeit the right to legal action. This is an important deadline, as those failing to take action will often find that they have lost any future right to obtain compensation for their injuries. In general, the Georgia statute of limitations for personal injuries is two years from the point of the injury.
As a result, it is vital to obtain the services of an attorney as quickly as possible after the event leading to the claim, in order to leave as much time as possible for negotiation between the attorney and the other party. Waiting until the last minute can result in lost opportunities as the looming deadline forces both sides to move quickly, instead of being able to negotiate at a more studied pace.
Exceptions to the General Rules about the Statute of Limitations Period
There are exceptions to the normal two-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims. The first and most likely is when a personal injury claim is related to an individual who is a minor at the time. In this case, the statute of limitations does not start counting down until the individual is 18. Thus, should a child be injured at age 16, the two year statute of limitation period would not come into play until his or her 18th birthday. However, should the injury result in the child’s death, the statute of limitations period would commence from the date of his or her death, not the child’s 18th birthday.
Secondly, for some forms of personal injury, the statute of limitations starts upon the discovery of the personal injury. In many cases, such as an auto wreck, the cause of the injury is obvious. However, in other cases the individual may not immediately realize that he or she is the victim of negligence.
For example, the statute of limitations period for a medical malpractice personal injury claim resulting from foreign material being left in the body after a surgery, starts upon the discovery of the object, not when it was left in the body. In other cases, such as asbestos related illnesses, the statute of limitations also dates from when the diagnosis occurred. This is referred to in some cases, as the “date of discovery.”
The Statute of Limitations and Legal Representation
Due to the importance of the statute of limitations, it is vital that a qualified personal injury attorney be secured as soon as possible after the injury or discovery of the injury. Obtaining the needed information, negotiating with the other parties, and attempting to reach a settlement before filing a personal injury suit all take time, and starting late may encourage the other party to delay. By contacting the law offices of Eric J. Hertz, interested parties can find the legal assistance they need.