Gone are the days of crime victims rushing to the courthouse steps to beat the statute of limitations' ticking clock. Now, crime victims have the ability to make time stand still in regard to their claims arising out of the crime committed against them. Tolling statutes extend the time for plaintiffs to sue by temporarily suspending the running of the statute of limitations. One such statute, section 9-3-99 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A.), tolls the statute of limitations for claims brought by plaintiffs who were the victim of a crime giving rise to their action. The statute was enacted in 2005 and was consistently interpreted only to apply to lawsuits brought by crime victims against their perpetrators.
However, the Georgia Court of Appeals, in the 2016 case Harrison v. McAfee, relied on the statute's plain meaning and interpreted it in a new way, applying it to lawsuits against persons other than perpetrators of the crime as long as the claim arose out of the facts and circumstances of the crime. This drastically altered the scope of the statute, and overruled the court's prior decisions. As the court recognized in its opinion, the broader interpretation of the statute will significantly impact the future of personal injury actions brought by crime victims.
Connick, Gretchen O.
"I Tolled You I Had More Time!: The Future of Tolling Looks Bright for Crime Victims, as the Georgia Court of Appeals Establishes New Meaning of O.C.G.A. § 9-3-99,"
Mercer Law Review: Vol. 68:
2, Article 10.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.mercer.edu/jour_mlr/vol68/iss2/10