Statute of Limitations for Georgia Car Accidents

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October 14, 2022

Published On

October 14, 2022

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Following an accident, those involved are likely to experience vehicular damage and both physical and emotional injuries, from strains and bruises to more severe medical conditions like broken bones, head injuries, and post-traumatic stress. 

While the weeks or months after an accident should center around your healing and recovery, there are also various legal obligations to navigate that must be completed under Georgia’s statute of limitations. The statute of limitations will determine the latest you can file a personal injury claim with your Georgia car accident attorney. 

That said, we’ve compiled this guide to help you maneuver Georgia's statute of limitations and ease your post-accident processes. 

Statute of Limitations in Georgia

First things first, let’s clarify what statute of limitations actually means. This term describes the period of time when a claim can be submitted after an injury. The statute of limitations depends on two main criteria:

  1. The jurisdiction
  2. The type of claim

In this case, the jurisdiction is Georgia, and the type of claim is a car accident. 

Georgia Code section 9-3-33 sets the statute of limitations for car accidents at two years. This is the same timeline for most personal injury claims in Georgia. That said, the statute of limitations for vehicle damage is actually four years as these are two different types of claims.

Those time frames are based on the date the accident happens. For example, if a death occurs, the statute of limitations for a personal injury claim is still two years; however, that two years begins on the date of the death, rather than the date of the car accident case if those two dates differ.

Georgia Car Accidents FAQs

If you are a car accident victim in Georgia, there are various legal logistics to consider, both pertaining to and diverting from the Georgia statute of limitations. 

#1 Why Do Statutes of Limitations Exist?

Believe it or not, statutes of limitations have appeared in law codes as far back as ancient Greece. They were instituted to prevent the unfair prosecution of defendants, or in the case of car accidents, those determined to be at fault. 

Over time, evidence is more likely to be lost and eyewitness testimony becomes less reliable.

It also ensures that lawsuits and insurance claims can be dealt with in a timely manner. 

#2 What Happens If the Statute of Limitations Has Passed?

When it comes to a statute of limitations for car accidents, Georgia determines that if you file a case after the statute of limitations period has ended, a judge will dismiss it and your case won’t be heard. 

As a result, it’s essential to be proactive and file an auto accident claim as soon as possible.  

#3 Is Georgia a No-Fault or At-Fault State?

Is GA a no-fault state or an at-fault state? Georgia is an at-fault state, meaning that if you cause a car accident, you (and your car insurance company) are financially responsible for the damages and injuries inflicted on other parties.  

However, there’s also a situation known as comparative fault where both parties share the blame. Car accidents are often the result of multiple factors, and comparative fault recognizes that both parties can hold some blame after an accident, although it might not be equal. 

For example, if someone collides with your car, they share the majority of the fault, but insurance or a court might also assign partial blame to you if your actions, such as speeding or texting and driving, exacerbated the situation.

In Georgia, as long as the other party is more at fault than you, you can claim personal injury against them. However, the amount you receive from them will be reduced in proportion to how much of the blame you hold. The term for this is modified comparative negligence

Accordingly, if you are at least 50% to blame for the accident, you will not be able to recover any damages under Georgia law. There is no empirical measure to determine who holds which percentage of fault. Rather, you will need to convince either a court or insurance claims adjuster. 

#4 What Kind of Losses Does Georgia Law Compensate?

If you were in an auto accident in Georgia, it’s helpful to understand what type of losses you can receive compensation for. The legal term for these losses is damages, and Georgia law entitles you to compensation for various damages including: 

  • Medical treatment
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost income

#5 Who Do Georgia Car Accident Laws Include?

Georgia car accidents don’t just include collisions between two cars. They also encompass collisions between a car and:

  • Bicyclists
  • Electric scooter riders
  • Motorcycle riders
  • Pedestrians

#6 How Long Does an Insurance Company Have to Settle a Claim in Georgia?

Insurance companies in Georgia must settle claims within 40 days. Those 40 days break down like this:

  • Claim – After you submit your claim, the insurance company has 15 days to send you the necessary instructions and paperwork to move forward.
  • Decision – Once the company receives your proof-of-loss forms, they have another 15 days to make their decision.
  • Payment – If they approve the car accident claim, then the insurance company has 10 more days to make the payment.

Poor communication and complex cases can slow down this timeline, but if you think your insurance is unreasonably slow, you can file a lawsuit that will add interest and penalties to your original payment amount. Learn more about the average settlement for car accidents in Georgia to see how much you could be compensated depending on your car accident case.

#7 Do I Have to Notify the Police After a Car Accident?

There are two cases when car accidents in Georgia legally need to be reported to the police:

  1. If the accident causes injury or death to any person
  1. If the accident causes apparent property damage of at least $500

These requirements come directly from Georgia Code section 40-6-273. The state expects you to make this report immediately. You should report the accident to the local city or town police. If you’re not in an incorporated area, contact the nearest police station or the state police.

When you contact the police, make sure to record:

  • The officer’s name
  • The officer’s badge number
  • The station’s address
  • The station’s phone number

You’ll also want to ask the officer when the report will be filed and where you can get a copy. Having all access to the police report can help you easily file for insurance claims and pursue a settlement.  If you undergo a Georgia car accident with no police report, it will be much harder to file a car accident claim.

#8 Does Georgia Require Auto Insurance?

When we reference car insurance, there are two primary types we’re talking about:

  1. Liability Insurance – Liability insurance pays for others’ damages. So if you’re in an auto accident, liability insurance would cover the other person’s injuries and any damages to their car if you’re at fault.
  1. Physical Damage Insurance – Physical damage insurance pays for damage to your own car. Depending on the policy, this can include collisions, in addition to theft and fires.

Georgia doesn’t require physical damage insurance, but they do require liability insurance. The minimum limit for property damage liability is $25,000 for each accident. The minimum bodily injury liability is $25,000 for each person and $50,000 for each accident.

Insurance companies allow you to purchase higher limits than these as well as additional insurance (like physical damage insurance). The one time that physical damage insurance might be required is if your car is financed or leased. However, you’ll want to check with the company to confirm.

#9 How Do I File an Auto Insurance Claim?

Again, it’s best to be proactive. Look into the auto insurance claim filing process before an accident happens. Your insurance may have its own preferred process. Generally, you’ll need:

  • Insurance agent’s name
  • Insurance agent’s phone number
  • Insurance policy identification number

All of this should be found on your claim service card from your insurance. In addition to filing a police report, you should obtain the following information from the other driver:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone numbers
  • License plate number
  • License plate state
  • Insurance company name
  • Insurance policy number
  • Insurance agent’s phone number

Also, ask any witnesses for their names and addresses. Record any relevant details of the accident by taking photos, drawing diagrams, or writing down information like:

  • Speed
  • Weather
  • Traffic Signs

To protect yourself, don’t discuss the accident with other drivers or even witnesses. Don’t make any statements about responsibility or blame. And don’t reveal how much liability insurance you carry. Contact your insurance immediately after the accident.

#10 Will the Accident Affect My Insurance Rates?

After a car accident, you can expect your insurance rates to increase if you were at fault. The amount they will increase depends on the severity of the accident as well as other factors such as your age. 

For example, drivers under 25 tend to see the highest increases as they’re already deemed to be “high-risk” drivers. One estimate found an average increase of $750 (from $1,771 to $2,521) for a full-coverage annual premium.

Some insurance providers offer accident forgiveness programs for an additional fee that you need to enroll in before an accident. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, so if you’re looking for strategies to decrease your premiums after an accident, consider:

  • Changing insurances
  • Editing your coverage
  • Enrolling in discounts
  • Improving your credit
  • Raising your deductible
  • Switching cars

Know Your Rights with Mighty 

If you experience a car accident in Georgia, it’s critical to file a claim before the two-year statute of limitations period ends to ensure you’re compensated fairly and quickly for any damages to you or your vehicle. 

To help you navigate the legal, financial, and logistical side of post-accident to-dos, Mighty is here to advocate for you every step of the way. Our all-in-one personal injury services provide you with solutions to get back on your feet, including legal representation, medical care, financial support, and car rentals and repairs. 

No matter your crisis, we’ve got your back. Get in touch with our car accident lawyers in Atlanta, GA today.

Sources: 

Cornell Law School. Statute of limitations. https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/statute_of_limitations 

Nolo. Georgia Car Accident Laws. https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/georgia-car-accident-laws.html 

Corporate Finance Institute. Statute of Limitations. https://corporatefinanceinstitute.com/resources/wealth-management/statute-of-limitations/ 

Experian. What Is Comparative Fault in a Car Accident? https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/what-is-comparative-fault-in-car-accident/ 

WalletHub. How long does an insurance company have to settle a claim in Georgia? https://wallethub.com/answers/ci/how-long-does-an-insurance-company-have-to-settle-a-claim-in-georgia-2140742115/ 

Office of Commissioner of Insurance and Safety Fire. Tips for Filing Auto Insurance Claim. https://oci.georgia.gov/insurance-resources/auto/auto-claim-tips 

Bankrate. How long do you have to report a car accident to your insurance? https://www.bankrate.com/insurance/car/how-long-after-a-car-accident-can-you-file-a-claim/ 

Office of Commissioner of Insurance and Safety Fire. Auto Insurance. https://oci.georgia.gov/insurance-resources/auto 

Bankrate. How much will my car insurance go up after an accident? https://www.bankrate.com/insurance/car/rates-after-an-accident/ 

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