The past two years have been difficult for everyone as we all struggle to adapt to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The pandemic has changed the way we live, shop, interact with friends, go to school, and even work.
It has also changed some age-old legal procedures, including how hearings are conducted and even how the statute of limitations is calculated for personal injury claims.
The Filing Deadline for Personal Injury Actions
As mentioned in other blog posts on our website, the statute of limitations is, in essence, a legal deadline that must be met when it comes to filing a personal injury action.
In Georgia, that legal “deadline,” i.e., the statute of limitations is two years from the date the cause of action accrues—which, for personal injury actions, is generally the date the injury occurred.
There are certain factors that can “toll” (i.e., stop or suspend) the running of the statute of limitations, but they are very limited. For example, if a personal injury victim was a minor at the time of his/her injury, the statute may be tolled until he/she reaches the age of maturity (generally 18).
Understanding the running of the statute of limitations (and getting it right) cannot be overstated.
Because if you miss the filing deadline—whether through inadvertence or because you miscalculated or because you thought the statute was tolled when it was not —the result is that (with few exceptions) you will be forever barred from filing your claim.
This makes calculating the statute of limitations a critical part of any personal injury case.
COVID and Emergency Orders
Across the country, emergency orders issued in response to government shutdowns complicated the calculation of the statute of limitations as each state enacted its own approach to whether or not, and for how long, the statute would be “tolled” due to emergency orders.
According to the American Bar Association, it is critical to understand how the tolling of statute of limitations was treated during the pandemic states of emergency in your state because it is anticipated that the issue will be a hotly disputed one for years to come.
Indeed, the situation caused by COVID and emergency orders in Georgia is an example of this. In March of 2020, the Supreme Court of Georgia issued an Order Declaring a Statewide Judicial Emergency, tolling the statute of limitations for all cases. This initial order was followed by several extensions. Then, in July of 2020, the Supreme Court of Georgia issued its Fourth Order reinstating the statute of limitations and requiring all cases to meet the normal statutory deadlines. But since the Fourth Order specifically excludes the 122 days between March 14 and July 14, 2020 for all cases filed on or after July 14, 2020 in the calculation of the statute of limitations, it is not clear whether this means that all cases are granted a 122-day extension or whether only cases whose statutes of limitations would expire between March 14 and July 14, 2020 are granted an extension.
If you have a personal injury case, now more than ever it is important that you seek out experienced counsel to assist you.
Personal Injury Attorneys in Cumming, Georgia.
The personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Mark Weinstein, P.C., are here to help you. We serve clients in Atlanta, and in several counties throughout Georgia, including: Clayton County, Cobb County, Dekalb County, Douglas County, Fulton County, and Paulding County, among others. To find out how we can help you, call us at: 770-888-7707. Or contact us here.