Georgia Personal Injury Laws & Statutory Rules
Georgia laws on personal injury lawsuits. Learn about the time limits to file, compensation available, fault and liability rules, and more.
If you’re involved in an accident-related insurance claim or lawsuit in Georgia, it helps to know some things about the Georgia laws that could apply to your case. In this article, we’ll look at a few key Georgia personal injury laws.
Time Limits for Georgia Personal Injury Lawsuits
A time limit, or “statute of limitations,” applies to all injury-related personal injury cases filed in Georgia's civil court system. In Georgia, you have two years to
file a lawsuit in court. The "clock" on this deadline usually starts
running on the date of your accident or whatever led to your injury.
It's crucial to understand and abide by Georgia's statute of limitations in injury cases, because if you try to file your lawsuit after the two-year window has closed, the court will almost certainly refuse to hear it, and you'll lose your right to get compensation for your injuries.
For injury claims against a city or county, you have six months to file a formal claim. For claims against the state, you have two years. See: Injury Claims Against The Government
Georgia Comparative Fault Laws
In some cases, when you try to file a court case or insurance claim
after suffering an injury, the other party will turn around and claim
that you’re actually the one at fault -- in whole or in part -- for the
accident. What happens then?
Georgia’s modified comparative fault rule reduces or eliminates damages if you’re found to be partly or mostly at fault for your accident. Here’s an example:
Suppose that you’re going through an intersection when you’re hit by a driver who ran a red light. You were traveling 10 miles per hour above the speed limit at the time. It’s finally determined that the other driver was 90 percent at fault for the accident, and you were 10 percent at fault. Georgia’s modified comparative fault rule reduces your damages by an amount that is equal to the percent of fault assigned to you. Here, if your damages equal $10,000, you’ll receive $9,000, or $10,000 minus $1,000 representing the 10 percent of fault assigned to you.
In Georgia, the courts are required to apply the comparative fault rule in injury cases where both parties are found to share the fault. Don’t be surprised, however, if the issue also comes up in insurance settlement negotiations.
Georgia Auto Insurance Laws
Georgia is a “fault” state when it comes to auto insurance claims. This means those injured in Georgia car accidents have multiple options for seeking compensation for losses. They can file a claim with their own insurance company, file a third-party claim directly with the other driver’s insurance company, or file a lawsuit in court.
"Strict" Liability for Dog Bite/Attack Cases
In many states, dog owners are protected (to some degree) from injury liability the first time their dog injures someone if they had no reason to believe the dog was dangerous. This is often called a "one bite" rule. In Georgia however, a specific statute (Ga. Code Ann. § 51-2-7) makes the owner "strictly liable", meaning regardless of the animal's past behavior, the dog owner is responsible for a personal injury caused by his/her dog.
Specifically, Georgia's strict liability dog bite statute provides that if the plaintiff can show that the dog should have been on a leash or "at heel", but wasn't, the dog owner is liable for any resulting injuries.
Damage Caps in Georgia Personal Injury Cases
Some states have caps on damages in personal injury cases.
These caps limit the amount of damages an injured person or family can
receive in certain types of cases, or for certain types of losses.
Georgia currently does not cap damages in medical malpractice or other kinds of personal injury cases. In 2010, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that damages caps violate the right to a jury trial established in the state constitution.