Drivers in Georgia can be held responsible when their careless driving causes a bicycle accident. Injured bicyclists are entitled to pursue compensation from the driver. In many cases, a bicycle rider’s injury lawyer will negotiate a settlement with the driver’s insurance company.
In some cases, however, insurers refuse to negotiate in good faith. Negotiations might also be delayed by the need to obtain further information about whether the bicyclist will recover from disabling injuries. When an injury claim will not settle quickly, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit to protect the injury victim’s rights.
Injured bicycle riders need to keep their eye on the calendar to avoid losing the right to seek compensation from a careless driver. If too much time passes after the accident, the injured bicyclist will lose the right to bring a lawsuit. Careless drivers and their insurance companies have no obligation to pay injury claims after that right is lost.
Georgia Statute of Limitations for Bicycle Accidents
The time limit for bringing a lawsuit is known as the “limitations period.” The Georgia legislature has enacted different limitations periods for different kinds of legal claims. The law that creates a limitations period is called a statute of limitations.
The limitations period for personal injury lawsuits in Georgia, including those arising from bicycle accidents, is usually two years. As we explain below, there are exceptions to that rule, but most injury claims are governed by a two-year limitations period.
The statute of limitations does not require every claim to be resolved within two years. Rather, it requires injury victims to file lawsuits within two years. If they do not settle their claims or file a lawsuit before the expiration of that two-year period, they lose their right to pursue the claim in court.
When injuries result from a collision between another vehicle and a bicycle, the two-year period nearly always begins to run on the day of the collision. If the accident occurred on May 25, the last day to file a lawsuit will be May 25, two years later.
Exceptions to Georgia’s Statute of Limitations for Bicycle Accidents
There are only a few exceptions to the two-year limitations period. The one that most often applies to bicycle accidents involves the age of the bicycle rider.
When the bicycle rider is under the age of 18, the limitations period does not begin until the rider’s eighteenth birthday. That means a minor who is injured while riding a bicycle can usually bring a lawsuit at any time before reaching the age of 20.
A shorter limitations period applies when the claim is brought against a county for a bicycle accident caused by a county employee while the employee was working. In most cases, the limitations period for suing the county is one year from the date of the accident.
Another rule requires the injury victim to give notice of the claim to the state or local government before filing suit. While the “notice of claim” requirement does not shorten the limitations period, failing to provide a timely notice can bar the injury victim from filing suit.
Notice of a claim against the state must usually be given within one year after the accident. Notice must be given to local governments, including a city or county, within six months after the accident.
Complying with notice of claim statutes can be complicated. It is best to engage the services of a personal injury lawyer immediately after the accident, so that the responsible entity can be identified and appropriate notices can be served on time.
Bicycle Accident Limitations Periods
In most cases, if the accident occurred in Georgia, the lawsuit must be filed in Georgia and the two-year limitations period applies. In unusual cases, if the driver who caused the accident lives in a state with a longer limitations period, it might be possible to bring the lawsuit in that state. Since that isn’t always true, it is important to obtain legal advice before the Georgia limitations period expires.