If you have a personal injury claim from a car crash or slip and fall accident in North Carolina against another party whose negligence caused your injury, you have a limited time to pursue justice. In most cases, North Carolina’s personal injury statute of limitations bars filing lawsuits after three years from the date of the injury.
The statute of limitations is important because a personal injury lawsuit is typically the last resort for recovering compensation. A lawsuit requires time to investigate the accident, identify liable parties, obtain records and documents, determine what the lawsuit should claim, and calculate the compensation due.
Most lawsuits are filed after negotiations with the insurance company have reached an impasse. But negotiations for compensation cannot start in earnest until the accident victim has reached maximum medical recovery and their medical expenses can be accurately estimated.
Depending on the accident and injury, a three-year deadline may not provide as much time as you think to investigate and file a personal injury lawsuit. It’s important to talk to an attorney as soon as possible.
North Carolina Civil Statutes of Limitations
The time limit for filing a civil lawsuit in North Carolina differs according to the type of claim. The various civil claims that are subject to a statute of limitations and their deadlines are:
- Personal injury claim — 3 years
- Workers’ compensation claim for a workplace injury or illness — 2 years
- Medical malpractice lawsuit based on medical error — 3 years and possibly 4 years, but only 1 year after the discovery of a foreign object (such as a surgical instrument or part of a sponge) left inside the patient
- Injury to personal property — 3 years
- Trespassing — 3 years
- Fraud — 3 years
- Libel or slander — 1 year
- Collection of rent payments in arrears — 3 years
- Contracts (oral or written) — 3 years
- Judgments (e.g., collecting on a small claims court decision) — 10 years
Exceptions to the North Carolina Personal Injury Statute of Limitations
North Carolina law recognizes some situations in which the amount of time allowed for filing a personal injury claim may be extended. They include:
- Cases involving an injured minor or a plaintiff with some other legal disability at the time of the injury, meaning they are considered temporarily incompetent. The three-year statute of limitations begins to count down once the plaintiff reaches the age of 18 or is declared mentally competent.
- Cases in which the potential lawsuit defendant resides outside of North Carolina. The time during which the defendant resides out of the state or remains continuously absent from the state for one year or more is not counted as part of the time allowed to file a lawsuit.
Contact Our Experienced North Carolina Attorneys
Statutes of limitations are meant to ensure that potential legal claims proceed in a timely fashion before the quality of witness testimony and other evidence deteriorates. It’s important to understand how the statute of limitations applies if you have a possible personal injury claim.
If you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, speak with a qualified personal injury lawyer at Hardison & Cochran. Our attorneys have the knowledge, skill, and resources to ensure that your claim is handled correctly. If we cannot negotiate a proper settlement for you, we will file a lawsuit and pursue justice for you in court. To schedule a free case evaluation with a knowledgeable attorney, call us today at 252-333-3333, or fill out a contact form.