Explaining Statutes of Limitations

By now the allegations against Bill Cosby have been widely covered by the news media. It was also often reported that many of the crimes Cosby has been accused of fall outside the statutes of limitations for criminal legal proceedings in the state of California. Just last week, the Governor of California, Jerry Brown, signed legislation ending California’s 10-year statute of limitations for prosecution of certain rape cases. While Governor Brown did not say that the bill was inspired by the allegations against Cosby, many news outlets have reported that this is widely believed to be the case.

So what exactly are statutes of limitations? A statute of limitations, in a civil law context, is a law that prevents someone from bringing a law suit against another party if the underlying cause of action occurred more than a specified number of years prior. Put another way, it is a limitation on the amount of time that a party has to bring forth a lawsuit.

In Georgia, statutes of limitation vary based on the underlying cause of action or the occurrence that gave rise to the lawsuit in the first place. The following are two of the most important examples of statutes of limitations to keep in mind if you’ve been involved in a motor vehicle accident:

Personal Injury

When it comes to personal injury, the statute of limitations in Georgia that governs is O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33. Under this code section, when someone has sustained a personal injury, they have two years to bring their claim. A common example of this would be injuries stemming from a motor vehicle accident. When the unfortunate happens and someone is injured following an accident, this two-year window is incredibly important to be aware of. As mentioned above, a failure to pay attention to it can result in a loss of the ability to be compensated for said injuries.

Personal Property

When someone has damaged your personal property under O.C.G.A. § 9-3-32, you must bring suit within four years. One of the most common examples of a personal property claim would be for damages to a motor vehicle following a car accident. Of course, personal property can include a host of other things as well. Let’s say your neighbor, following an evening of partying, decides to trespass onto your property and push over your brand new Harley Davison motorcycle. The resulting damage could give rise to a personal property claim, which you now have four years to pursue. Should you wait for more than four years, you lose the right to pursue this case.

There are a variety of other statutes of limitations in the state of Georgia including but not limited to: medical malpractice, product liability, libel, fraud, trespass, collection of rent, breach of contract, collection of a debt, amongst others. Statutes of limitations can vary greatly and can also be impacted by other laws that can extend them. Accordingly, if you have a lawsuit, it is important to consult a lawyer familiar with the different statutes of limitations in Georgia. If you or a loved one has been injured due to the negligence of another, call The Rhine Law Firm today.


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