What is the North Carolina Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury?
Attorneys urge you to exercise your rights or lose them forever
Every claim has a time limit. At Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban, we want you to be aware of the strict time limit you have for filing a personal injury or wrongful death claim, because if you fail to act within the time allotted, you lose your right to compensation forever.
The reasoning behind statutes of limitations
The statute of limitations serves a useful purpose by forcing plaintiffs to bring claims within a reasonable amount of time. Cases adjudicated in a timely manner have a better chance of achieving a just outcome. Over time, physical evidence disappears and the memories of witnesses fade. Witnesses can move out of a jurisdiction (therefore out of the reach of a subpoena) or pass away. Imagine if a plaintiff was allowed to wait twenty years for the key defense witness to die, and was then able to file a lawsuit?
How the statute of limitations operates in North Carolina
North Carolina has statutes of limitations for various types of legal claims. For personal injury, the standard limitation period is three years and, for wrongful death, it is two years. Key points to understand include:
- Date of injury event — For obvious injuries, the statutory period begins running on the date of the accident.
- Date of discovery — For latent injuries or injury events hidden from the victim, the statutory period begins when the victim knew or reasonably should have known that an injury existed. This is important in cases of medical malpractice, where a patient doesn’t realize a doctor made a mistake, and only learns after a period of inquiry. However, the statute can never be extended more than ten years from the last act of the defendant that gives rise to the claim. In medical malpractice cases, this is generally ten years after the last visit to the defendant healthcare provider.
- Statute of repose — In defective product cases, a plaintiff cannot bring a personal injury lawsuit based on an inherent defect in a product more than 12 years after the initial date of purchase.
- Mental incapacity — A person who is incompetent, including those rendered incompetent by the injury, have no statute of limitations applied to their claim.
- Delayed tolling for minors — North Carolina recognizes that minors do not have the capacity to file a lawsuit. Therefore, minors who suffer injuries before their 18th birthday can file a lawsuit up to the day they turn 21 years old.
The statute of limitations, like North Carolina’s liability laws, may seem complicated. But our knowledgeable attorneys can assess how the law applies to your situation. If you’re wondering how to file a claim or how much a lawsuit costs, we can address these and many other issues at a free consultation at our office or in your home.
Contact an experienced attorney who knows how to prove liability
Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban works diligently to assert your claims in a timely manner. If you fear you are running up against the statute of limitations with your personal injury claim, we can deliver prompt legal assistance. To schedule a free consultation, call (888) 351-1038 or contact our office online.