The Court of Appeals recently issued a decision in an appeal of a trial court’s ruling dismissing a woman and her husband’s Georgia personal injury lawsuit. The general holding is that when you file a case and serve it and then dismiss it without prejudice, the Court will not throw out the renewal complaint for ticky tacky reasons. Any amendments to the pleadings relate back to the the original pleading.
In 2018, the woman filed a lawsuit against the driver of a car that hit her vehicle. The woman voluntarily dismissed her lawsuit nine months after the initial filing. About two months later, she renewed the lawsuit against the driver and an uninsured motorist carrier. At the renewal, her husband joined the claim alleging a loss of consortium. The insurance company moved to dismiss the complaint, arguing that the plaintiffs did not include necessary and required pleadings. The plaintiffs amended their complaint to correct the defects; however, the trial court granted the insurance company’s motion.
Under OCGA § 9-2-61, Georgia’s renewal statute, a plaintiff may recommence a previously-filed lawsuit that was voluntarily dismissed without prejudice. Plaintiffs may file the claim in state or federal court within the original statute of limitations or within six months after the dismissal, whichever is later. In cases where a plaintiff relies on the renewal to recommence a lawsuit that the statute of limitations would bar, they must prove that the prior lawsuit was not void. Further, the plaintiff must prove that the renewed action is based upon the same cause of action, and it is not a renewal of an action that was dismissed on its merits.
In this case, although the statute of limitations had run by the time the plaintiff tried to renew the lawsuit and add the loss of consortium claim, it was within six months of the voluntary dismissal. Despite this, the insurance company argued that the renewal was invalid because it did not contain the necessary information. The plaintiffs filed an amended renewal, which included a copy of the original complaint and proof of the complaint’s voluntary dismissal.
The insurance company argued that the complaint did not relate to the original renewal’s filing and was therefore untimely and invalid. The court reasoned that the renewed complaint was filed against the same defendants and brought the same claims, in addition to a new and timely loss of consortium claim. Further, the plaintiffs’ timely amendments supported their allegations. The defendant did not present a basis for rejecting the plaintiffs’ arguments, and therefore the trial court erred in ruling in favor of the defendants.
Have You Suffered Injuries in a Georgia Accident?
If you or someone you love has suffered serious injuries or died in a Georgia car accident, Christopher Simon, Attorney at Law, can help you pursue the compensation you deserve. The attorneys are our law firm have a long history of successfully representing personal injury victims. We handle accident cases stemming from car accidents, slip and falls, defective products, and incidents of medical malpractice. Our experienced attorneys have a comprehensive and detailed understanding of the complex laws and procedures that Georgia injury cases entail. We provide our clients with clear, understandable answers to their questions and concerns. Contact our office at 706-303-1054, to discuss your Georgia accident case.