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Personal Injury Lawsuit Basics: Timely Filing and Available Damages

If you were injured in an auto accident or due to another person’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation from the other party at fault. The lawyers at Goldstein & Hayes, P.C. have years of experience successfully handling and taking to trial personal injury lawsuits. Our staff recognizes the stress an unexpected injury can add to all areas of your life, and we are dedicated to helping ease the financial burden.

Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations, or time limit to file a personal injury lawsuit in Georgia civil court, is generally two years from the date of the incident. If a lawsuit is not filed within that time period, the claim will usually be time barred and the court will not hear your claim. Claims against governmental entities (the state, counties and municipalities) have specific notice requirements (ante litem notice) that must be followed. In Georgia, ante litem notice may be as soon as 6 months after an incident and if the proper ante litem notice is not provided the claim will be barred. It is important to consult an attorney as soon as possible after an accident to ensure your claim will not be barred due to a lack of proper notice or missing a statute of limitations.

What Kind of Compensation Can I Receive?

In Georgia, all parties are held responsible for damages proportionate to their percentage of fault. If a plaintiff is found by a jury to be 50% or more at fault for his or her injuries, he or she cannot recover any compensation from the defendant. If the defendant is greater that 50% at fault, then the plaintiff can recover damages, but the recovery will be reduced by plaintiff’s degree of fault. In Georgia, a plaintiff may be entitled to compensation from other potentially liable parties for:

  • Medical expenses relating to the injury at issue;

  • Any lost wages (possibly including future income) that are a direct result of the injury;

  • Compensation for severe emotional anguish;

  • Reimbursement for relevant property damage;

  • Loss of society, companionship or consortium;

  • Pain and suffering.

Punitive Damages

In limited circumstances, an injured plaintiff may be able to recover punitive damages. This type of damages is available in cases where a defendant’s actions “showed willful misconduct, malice, fraud, wantonness, oppression, or that entire want of care which would raise the presumption of conscious indifference to consequences.” Punitive damages are designed to punish, penalize or deter a defendant’s actions. Punitive damages are governed by Georgia Code Section 51-12-5.1. Georgia’s punitive damages statute places a $250,000 cap on any award of punitive damages. The exceptions to this cap are product liability claims and cases where “defendant acted, or failed to act, with the specific intent to cause harm,” or where defendant acted or failed to act while under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs, or any intentionally consumed substance to such a degree that his or her judgment is substantially impaired.

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries as a result of another party’s negligent, reckless, or malicious conduct, contact the attorneys at Goldstein & Hayes, P.C. as soon as possible for a free consultation.