Knowing the applicable statute of limitations is the first step in any personal injury claim. However, even when a statute of limitations has passed, an exception may still apply, as one recent case before a Georgia appeals court illustrates.
The Facts of the Case
On October 16, 2014, two drivers were involved in a car accident in Fayetteville, Georgia. A police officer responded to the scene and issued the defendant a traffic citation for following too closely. The citation listed November 18, 2014, as the final date to contest the citation. The defendant paid the citation on October 27, 2014, and the bond was forfeited on November 18, 2014. The plaintiff filed a personal injury claim against the defendant on November 10, 2016.
Tolling the Statute of Limitations
Tolling a statute of limitations allows a plaintiff to stop the statute of limitations from running for some time. In Georgia, under OCGA 9-3-33, there is a two-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims. However, under OCGA 9-3-99, the statute of limitations may be tolled for a claim brought by the victim of an alleged crime for a tort arising out of the same facts and circumstances until the criminal prosecution becomes final or is otherwise terminated.
The Issue in the Case
The defendant argued that the claim was barred by the two-year statute of limitations. The defendant asserted that even if the plaintiff’s claim was tolled, the prosecution became final when she paid the citation on October 27, 2014, which would mean that the statute of limitations had run before the lawsuit was filed. The plaintiff argued that the prosecution was pending until November 18, 2014, when the municipal court forfeited the defendant’s bond. The trial court agreed with the defendant, and dismissed the lawsuit, and the plaintiff appealed.
The Court’s Decision
The Georgia appeals court explained that the certified copy of the defendant’s citation showed that the “action” disposing of the case was “bond forfeiture” and that the disposition date was November 18, 2014. In addition, the docket record from municipal court listed the court date as November 18, 2014, and that the finding in the case was “bond forfeiture.” The court explained that although the defendant had already paid her ticket, the citation was pending until November 18, 2014, when the judge forfeited the defendant’s bond and disposed of the case. Therefore, the court reversed the trial court’s decision and reinstated the claim.
Contact an Atlanta Car Accident Attorney
If you have been seriously injured in a car crash, you should contact an experienced Atlanta car accident attorney. Christopher Simon is a dedicated Atlanta accident lawyer who has helped thousands of accident victims recover the compensation they deserve. To obtain legal advice from an experienced personal injury law firm where you will be treated with respect, contact Attorney Christopher Simon. We serve victims throughout the Atlanta region, including surrounding counties. To learn more about how what we can do to help, call 404-259-7635 to set up a free consultation.
Food Poisoning Cases Can’t Survive Unless the Science Connects the Meal to the Particular Illness, Atlanta Injury Attorney Blog, published September 19, 2018
Who is Going to Pay When the Are Multiple Vehicles in the Crash?, Atlanta Injury Attorney Blog, published October 16, 2018