The Georgia Statute of Limitations for civil actions sets a time limit after an injury or civil wrong occurs, during which an injured party can file a lawsuit. After that period of time expires, the injured party is no longer permitted to file a claim in a Georgia state court to litigate that matter. The statute ensures that lawsuits that have merit and worthy of being heard are filed within a reasonable time or not at all.
How Does the Statute of Limitations Operate?
The period of time to file a claim will vary depending upon the type of incident that occurred. A claim against a doctor for medical malpractice may be for a different length of time than against an accountant for negligence or fraud. The Georgia statute of limitations can generally be found within the Georgia Code Title 9, Chapter 3 and covers the following rules and exceptions in greater detail.
When does the Georgia Statute of Limitations Begin?
Other than for specific exceptions, the Georgia statute of limitations generally begins to run at the time when a “cause of action arises” – in other words, at the time when an injury occurs that would qualify for a lawsuit to be filed in a Georgia state court.
What is the Discovery Rule?
There are times when a person is unable to discover that they have been injured. For example, fraud that is concealed by an accountant and is not easily discoverable or a medical condition resulting from a doctor’s misdiagnosis that can only be detected after the patient’s health deteriorates. It wouldn’t be fair or reasonable to require the injured party to file a lawsuit when they could not have detected the injury. As a result, in some instances the Georgia statute of limitations begins to run from the time the injured party discovers or should have discovered that they have been injured.
Delaying or Tolling the Georgia Statute of Limitations
In certain circumstances, fairness would require that the statute of limitations be delayed for a period of time. A party may not have the ability to bring a case even though they are aware of an injury or damages. Delaying or “tolling” the statute of limitations typically occurs when the plaintiff is “disabled” – such as a minor child or a person who is mentally incompetent or bankrupt. Once the disability ends, the statute of limitations begins to run.
Calculating the length of time that a plaintiff has to file a lawsuit is complicated and involves many factors and exceptions. Parties that have suffered significant injuries or damages may wish to consult with a Georgia attorney to ensure that all claims and notices are filed within the time limits set forth by law.
Georgia Statute of Limitations for Civil Actions
Personal Injury and Negligence
2 years, use the Discovery Rule for issues that concern discovery of the injury at a later date. See §9-3-33
2 years from the date of the malpractice or death, use the Discovery Rule up to 1 year regarding foreign objects left in the body of a patient, maximum of 5 years from the date of the malpractice. Minors who suffer medical malpractice under the age of 5 have 2 years from age 5. See §9-3-71
Legal and Professional Malpractice
4 years, generally.
2 years with the Discovery Rule or one year from the date of death with a maximum of 10 years (Statute of Repose). Exceptions apply.
Assault and Battery
Yes although a plaintiff is barred from recovery where plaintiff is 50% or greater at fault or where plaintiff could have avoided the damages caused by defendant’s negligence with plaintiff’s use of ordinary care. Where plaintiff is less than 50% at fault, plaintiff’s recovery is reduced by that percentage of fault.
Written contracts 6 years. Oral contracts 4 years.
Personal Property Damage
Libel / Slander / Defamation
2 years from the date of publication (or the date when spoken). See §9-3-33
Debt Collection Accounts
4 years – see §9-3-25
Promissory notes – 6 years.
Collection of Rent
7 years. See §9-3-20
Yes – applies.
Liability of State and Municipalities
1 year limit.
Consumer Fraud Complaints
Toll Free: (800)869-1123
Please Take Note: The statute of limitations laws presented are strictly provided to you “as-is”. While we believe that the legal information is accurate as of the date created, we cannot and do not provide any guarantee, analysis or conclusions. The law may have changed since this article was published. The only way to ensure that the statute of limitations law you are reading is up to date and applies to your specific issue, is to have a legal consultation with an attorney licensed to practice law in the state of Georgia.