Most of the time, the answer is two years. But it depends on several things.
Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury
The general two-year rule comes from the Georgia law addressing “injuries to the person,” which is O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33 (you can Google it). In most cases, that means that after two years have passed since the collision, you can no longer file the case. Since you can’t file it anymore, most insurance companies won’t agree to settle the case after that date either, since there’s nothing you can do about it if they refuse.
Ante Litem Rules in Georgia
Sometimes, there are shorter deadlines. For instance, if your case is against the State of Georgia, it must usually be filed under the Georgia Tort Claims Act, which means you must give the state notice of your claim (called an “ante litem” notice) in a very particular way within one year of the injury, or your case will be thrown out of court. O.C.G.A. § 50-21-26(a)(1). If your case is against a city, the ante litem deadline could be as short as six months. O.C.G.A. § 36-33-5(b).
Extending the Statute of Limitations in Personal Injury Cases
Other times, the statute of limitations is paused, or “tolled,” such that the deadline to file the case is extended. One common reason for extension is O.C.G.A. § 9-3-99, which provides that if the person at fault was charged with a crime, or could have been charged with a crime, then the statute of limitations is “tolled” from the commission of the crime until the date that the prosecution for the crime is final, as long as that time period doesn’t exceed six years. In other circumstances, if a minor was injured, the statute of limitations for the minor may be “tolled” until the minor reaches 18 years old, at which point it begins to run. O.C.G.A. § 9-3-90(b).
If you have or may have a claim, we hope this answer has been helpful.