When you’re injured due to someone else’s negligence, it’s essential to understand the North Carolina statute of limitations for personal injury claims. This statute dictates the time window to legally bring a claim, which is often three years from the accident date. Missing this deadline may result in the forfeiture of your right to seek compensation, regardless of the merit of your case.
Read on to learn more about the specifics of the NC statute of limitations for personal injury claims, including exceptions to the rule, tolling the statute, and what different timelines apply.
Typical Deadline for Filing a Personal Injury Claim
In North Carolina, the general rule for personal injury claims is that the injured party must file a lawsuit within three years from the accident date. This timeline applies to most personal injuries, whether your injuries result from car accidents, slip and falls, or other similar incidents.
Different Time Limits for Different Types of Personal Injury Claims
While the three-year rule applies to many personal injury cases in North Carolina, there are nuances depending on the nature of the claim. Here are some examples of personal injury cases with different filing deadlines.
Victims have three years from the date of the injury or one year from the date of discovering the injury. However, you have no more than four years from the date of the malpractice to file a lawsuit.
If injured by a defective product, you generally have three years from the date of injury to bring a claim. However, the statute of repose can affect your claim, which says you can only file a lawsuit against product manufacturers for a certain amount of time after a product is first sold.
The statute of repose is 12 years for any product sold or consumed by anyone (not just the victim). There is an exception to this for any improvements to real property.
If the injury leads to death, the deceased’s representative has two years from the date of death to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations
There are scenarios where North Carolina’s bodily injury statute of limitations might be paused or tolled. “Tolling” essentially means pausing or delaying the clock. These exceptions can extend the deadline:
- If the injured party was under 18 when the injury occurred, the clock doesn’t start running until the victim’s 18th birthday.
- If an individual becomes mentally incapacitated, the statute may be tolled until they regain capacity.
- The discovery rule, commonly applicable in medical malpractice cases, allows victims to file a lawsuit within a specific time from discovering the injury, not from when the injury occurred.
Be cautious about assuming you know the proper statute of limitations without speaking to a lawyer. Calculating the deadline can be complicated. Don’t inadvertently risk your case by missing the deadline.
The Importance of Adhering to the North Carolina Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims
The statute of limitations provides a streamlined legal process for everyone involved. Bringing a claim while the evidence is fresh is crucial. Victims must abide by the legal deadlines. Failure to do so could result in losing your right to compensation. Some of the reasons behind statutes of limitations include:
- Preservation of evidence. Evidence can deteriorate or become lost as time progresses, and witnesses’ memories might fade.
- Fairness to the defendant. The statute ensures that potential defendants are not indefinitely under the threat of a lawsuit.
Courts typically dismiss cases filed after the statutory deadline, except in specific exceptional circumstances. One of the benefits of hiring a lawyer early on in your case is there’s no risk of missing the deadline.
Getting Started with Your Personal Injury Claim
If you believe you have a valid personal injury claim, taking the appropriate steps after your accident can help build a strong case.
- Seek medical attention. Prioritize your health first. Documenting your injuries is also crucial for your claim.
- Consult with an attorney. Personal injury law can be complex. Engage with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney who understands the intricacies of your type of case.
- Document everything. From medical bills to witness contacts, ensure you have thorough records of all evidence supporting your compensation claim.
- Act swiftly. Even if you have ample time, present a claim as soon as possible.
Each type of personal injury claim presents unique challenges. You want to find an attorney with the skills and experience necessary to help you seek the maximum compensation. No matter what the other party’s insurance company leads you to believe, there’s nothing wrong with hiring a lawyer from the start.
Contact a North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyer
Calculating the North Carolina personal injury statute of limitations requires an experienced injury attorney to review your case. If you suffered injuries due to another party’s negligence, the Law Offices of Naomi Ellis, PLLC, can help. We have years of experience handling a wide variety of personal injury matters. We’ll help ensure your case gets the attention it deserves. When you hire our firm, you will work with Naomi from start to finish. Please get in touch with our office to schedule a consultation so we can review your case and help you identify the applicable statute of limitations.