No part of American life was left untouched by the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic remains a serious threat to our country but governments, businesses, and individuals are slowly starting to get back to a “new normal.” As this transition occurs, those who were injured immediately before or during the COVID-19 crisis are wondering what to do and whether there is still time to file a lawsuit to pursue compensation for a wrongful injury. To help you better understand this issue, this article addresses the types of injuries that occurred, the usual deadlines, and the change to deadlines as a result of COVID-19.
Types of Injuries That Occurred During COVID-19
As a result of COVID-19, there was some decrease in certain types of injuries due to the changes in lifestyles that occurred. For example, with less driving, there were fewer accidents. Similarly, with fewer elective procedures, there were fewer elective procedure medical malpractice suits.
However, injuries still happened during the height of the COVID-19 crisis, and the types of injuries that occurred during the COVID-19 crisis are largely the same as those that occur in more normal times. Slip-and-falls, automobile accidents, injuries from negligent security, and medical malpractice all still occurred during the COVID-19 crisis.
Treatment and Lawsuit Delays Due to COVID-19
While the types of injuries did not change, what people could do about those injuries that occurred prior to or during the height COVID-19 crisis changed drastically.
Many non-emergency medical offices were completely closed during the height of the COVID-19 crisis. This forced many people to put off treatment such as physical therapy for non-critical injuries. Additionally, many law firms and courts were at least partially closed or less available, preventing injured persons from immediately seeking legal counsel and pursuing lawsuits related to their personal injuries.
General Time Limit for Lawsuits for Injuries in Georgia
In civil (non-criminal) legal cases, there is always a time limit for bringing a lawsuit. The time limit is called the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations varies depending on the type of lawsuit being brought but generally range from one to a few years. Statutes of limitation vary between states, so do not rely on information from California if you were injured in Georgia.
In Georgia, the statute of limitations for personal injuries is generally two years. The Georgia statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases is two years as well. In normal times, exceptions to the statute of limitations are very narrow; a lawsuit can rarely be brought after the statute of limitations.
Time Limit for Lawsuits for Injuries Immediately Before and During COVID-19
Fortunately, on the legal side, the Georgia Supreme Court declared a statewide judicial emergency on March 14, 2020. The order, among other things, extended deadlines for filings in new and existing lawsuits. The order has been extended twice since March 14. The orders suspended, tolled, and extended deadlines, specifically, including statutes of limitations.
The most recent order, which was issued on June 12, 2020, sets forth a plan for re-imposing court deadlines. Under it, normal deadlines begin again on July 14, 2020. However, the 122 days between March 14 and July 14 are not included when calculating the statute of limitations for a given case. In short, most litigants get more time than they normally would to file their case.
If you suffered a personal injury during the COVID-19 pandemic and want to know if you have a case and if you still have time to bring your case, contact Williams Elleby at 833-LEGALGA (833-534-2542) to set up a free consultation. We’d love to help you better understand your situation and options.