Switch to ADA Accessible Theme
Close Menu
Atlanta Criminal Defense Lawyers > Blog > Personal Injury > How Long Do You Have to Serve a Car Accident Lawsuit in Georgia?

How Long Do You Have to Serve a Car Accident Lawsuit in Georgia?


From the moment you are injured in a car accident, there is a proverbial clock ticking. This clock is Georgia’s two-year statute of limitations to file a personal injury lawsuit. Within this timeframe, you need to identify the defendant or defendants and serve them with your lawsuit. Failure to do so generally means a Georgia Superior Court judge will dismiss your case without hearing it on the merits.

Court of Appeals Declines to Reinstate Uninsured Motorist Claim

Serving a defendant is often a routine matter. But complications can and do arise. And defense attorneys–especially defense attorneys working for insurance companies–know how to take advantage of those complications.

Take this recent decision from the Georgia Court of Appeals, Clanton v. Taylor. In this case, the plaintiff sustained injuries in a September 2020 car accident. About 10 months later, she filed a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver (the defendant) in Georgia state court. The plaintiff also served the lawsuit on her uninsured motorist carrier.

Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage is a standard option on all Georgia auto insurance policies. It basically steps in to provide coverage for the insured if they are injured by a driver who either has no insurance or, as is often the case, lacks sufficient insurance to fully compensate the victim. In order to utilize UM coverage, however, the claimant needs to first sue and obtain a judgment against the uninsured (or under-insured) negligent driver.

Here, the plaintiff ran into problems serving her lawsuit on the defendant. She tried serving him in Georgia but learned he had moved to Indiana. Despite this, the process server kept trying to serve the defendant at his former Georgia address. And after an Indiana sheriff unsuccessfully tried to serve the defendant at his current address, the plaintiff waited a year before asking the Georgia court for permission to effect service by publication. (This is where you publish a notice about the lawsuit in a newspaper.)

At this point, the plaintiff’s UM carrier intervened to oppose service by publication. The insurer argued the plaintiff had failed to properly serve the defendant. As such, the UM carrier moved to dismiss the lawsuit, meaning it would not have to provide any coverage for the accident.

The courts agreed with the insurance company. The Court of Appeals, affirming an earlier ruling from the Superior Court, noted that the plaintiff in a personal injury case had an obligation “exercise due diligence in attempting to personally serve the defendant.” This obligation was “heightened” when, as here, the plaintiff asked for service by publication after the two-year statute of limitations period had expired.

Contact Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers Today

If you have been injured in an auto accident, never assume your insurance company will pay up without putting up a fight. You need an experienced Cobb County personal injury lawyer who will fight for your rights. Contact Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers today to schedule a free consultation. We serve clients throughout Georgia including Atlanta, Dunwoody, Alpharetta, Cobb County, Fulton County, Gwinnett County, Johns Creek and Sandy Springs.



Facebook Twitter LinkedIn