To file a personal injury claim following any severe accident, including a car accident, you must file your claim before the statute of limitations runs out. The statute of limitations protects people from getting blindsided by a lawsuit many years after an accident, when they have moved on, taken out different insurance, or no longer remember the terms of the accident. It also helps get compensation in the victim’s hands in a reasonably timely manner, since many car accident victims have medical expenses and other bills to contend with following the accident. 

Time can get away from you quickly after a severe accident. You have many important demands on your time, energy, and attention, from managing your medical appointments to juggling your work responsibilities. You may realize that you have grounds for a personal injury claim and even know that you need the funds from that claim, but get caught up in other activities you have to deal with and forget about contacting an attorney.

How long do you have to manage your car accident claim?

Georgia’s Statute of Limitations

According to Georgia law, car accident victims have until two years after the accident to file a personal injury claim. However, several factors can contribute to the statute of limitations and how long you have to file a claim. 

Did you discover your injuries well after the initial accident?

Suppose, after a rear-end collision, that you assumed that you sustained no serious injuries and chose not to go to the hospital or even visit an urgent care center. You had some soreness the next day, but nothing you found unusual. Over the next several weeks, however, your back pain does not resolve. You notice the pain steadily increasing instead. It starts to interfere with your daily activities. Eventually, months after the accident, you finally visit a doctor who tells you that you suffered a herniated disc in the accident. You need surgery to help repair the damage and physical therapy to help reduce your pain and improve your mobility. 

What now? Can you still file a personal injury claim? In some cases, you may have two years after you discovered your accident injuries to begin pursuing a personal injury claim. For many accident victims, this can make it possible to move forward with a personal injury claim even after the initial accident. Talk to an attorney after learning about your injuries as soon as possible to make it easier for you to file your claim. 

Do you need to file a claim for a minor child?

According to Georgia law, the statute of limitations often gets put on hold in child injury claims. Children represent a special case when it comes to severe injuries. Often, children heal differently than adults. Sometimes, that means they heal faster, bouncing back from injuries that would require a longer recovery in an adult. Other times, however, they may end up with long-term effects from their injuries that adults might not deal with. Traumatic brain injury in children, for example, sometimes leads to learning deficits that may not show up until several years after the initial accident. A child who sustains a serious injury to the limbs may discover that the injured limb never fully regains its strength, or that, as he grows, the injury causes additional problems. 

For minor children, the statute of limitations starts counting down when they turn eighteen. Not only does this give them and their doctors time to get a better understanding of the severity of the injury and its long-term impact on their lives, it means that the child can choose to file a personal injury claim even if their parents did not pursue it immediately after the accident. 

How Long Do You Have to Report a Car Accident In Georgia?

Georgia law mandates that individuals involved in accidents that cause over $500 in damage report the accident immediately. Ideally, you should call the police to the scene of the accident, wait for them to arrive, and give a statement at the scene. If you sustained severe injuries and need medical attention, you need to leave the scene of the accident before the police arrive. However, in the case of severe accidents that require emergency medical treatment, the police will likely already know about the accident. They may visit you in the hospital to get your side of the story. 

If you do leave the scene of the accident without reporting it, especially in the case of seemingly minor damage, you should still report it within a day. Do not delay reporting the accident, since this could leave you facing substantial consequences. 

How Long After a Car Accident Can You File a Police Report in Georgia?

Ideally, you should file a police report within 24 hours of the accident. You should not delay filing the police report, since this could leave you facing legal penalties. If someone suffers serious injury in a car accident, you should report the accident immediately. 

Do not make exceptions to filing a police report. Young drivers, drunk drivers, and drivers without a license for any reason may try to talk you out of reporting the accident. A police report, however, can serve as evidence in establishing when your accident happened and your right to a personal injury claim. 

When Should You Contact an Attorney After a Georgia Car Accident?

After a car accident that results in injuries, you should contact an experienced car accident attorney to learn more about your rights. Often, accident victims deserve more compensation than they may think. Contacting a car accident attorney soon after the accident can also make it easier to collect evidence related to the accident. The police and city workers may clean up the street quickly after your accident, removing hazards that contributed to the accident and eliminating evidence that you may need to help you file a personal injury claim. An attorney can help protect that evidence and use it to build your claim.

Also, contacting an attorney soon after your car accident can help you navigate dealings with the insurance company and give you a better idea of your rightful compensation. Some insurance companies may try to issue low settlement offers, which may not reflect the the proper compensation for your injuries. 

Did you suffer serious injuries in a Georgia car accident? Do you need to know more about the statute of limitations and how it impacts your claim? Contact Cambre & Associates, LLC today to learn more about your legal rights after a car accident.