Can I Sue for Damages?
[Below is a transcript of the podcast]
This is Ann Margaret Perkins with Perkins Law Firm. This podcast is going to answer the question: Can I sue for damages?
Assuming you haven’t signed a release, the short answer is “Yes”. There’s no minimum amount that you have to claim in order to bring a lawsuit. And you can sue in Georgia in either the magistrate courts, superior courts, or state courts if a county has a state court. Not all counties do. Carroll County does have a state court. The maximum amount you can sue for in Magistrate Court is $15,000.00. There is no maximum in state or superior court. There is a cost to file and serve a lawsuit. If you have one person you’re suing, that cost in State or Superior Court is going to be around $250. In Magistrate Court, it’ll probably be closer to $100. You need to be aware of the fact that there are statutes of limitations which are time limits on how long you have to sue. And there might be other time limits as well. If you are a competent adult, generally speaking, the statute of limitations for a personal injury suit is two years; a property damage suit is four years. You can get details on statutes of limitations in the podcast I did on that topic. You can sue with or without an attorney. My recommendation is, if a case is worth filing suit on, it’s at least worth talking to an attorney to see what the fee associated with the attorney handling that might be. I mentioned before that there are costs associated with filing suits. Many times attorneys will advance those costs so you don’t have to go out of pocket for those.
If you sue in Magistrate court you can pretty quickly get a hearing, maybe within 60-90 days. If you sue in State or Superior Court, it will take longer. You will have a period of “discovery” which generally is six months from when the defendant files his answer. During that time you may serve and be served interrogatories, requests for production of documents, and take or have taken depositions, which are sworn testimony that’s given in person to the other party. There are costs associated with discovery. If you have an attorney she usually advances those costs. Otherwise, you will have to come out of pocket with those. Once discovery is over the judge will put you on a trial calendar, and when your case is reached on that calendar, then you will go to trial. You can ask for a trial in front of a jury or in front of just the judge. But if you want a trial in front of a judge, the other person can request that the case be heard by a jury. Either party can request a jury trial. If you’re in State or Superior Court, I strongly recommend that you consider getting an attorney involved. Trying a case in state or superior court is much more complicated than Magistrate court.
The bigger question to me is: do you need to sue for damages, not can you. I don’t believe that it makes sense to sue for damages until you’ve at least attempted to resolve the case by compromise settlement. The time and expense associated with filing a suit, the work that’s involved (either on the part of an attorney or yourself) if you’re handling yourself, is not insignificant. So I don’t think you want to jump straight into a lawsuit. If you can’t get it fairly resolved without a suit, then certainly suing for damages is your right next step. We’re happy to talk with you about any questions you may have on this subject. You can call us at 770-834-2083 or contact us by visiting our website injuryispersonal.com.