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How Long After an Accident Can I File a Lawsuit?

You do not have a long time after an accident to file a lawsuit in North Carolina. The statute of limitations for a personal injury case is three years under G.S. § 1-52. The wrongful death statute of limitations is only two years, according to G.S. § 1-53.

If you were injured because of another party’s negligence, you could seek damages through a personal injury lawsuit. If you lost someone, you could file a wrongful death case. In either situation, you could talk to an attorney about your options. Whitley Law Firm can listen to your story and explain your next steps.

What Happens if You Miss the Filing Deadline?

Missing the filing deadline can destroy your case entirely. Once the statute of limitations passes, the injured person loses the right to seek compensation for their losses.

As the American Bar Association explains, you cannot file a lawsuit after the statute of limitations expires. At that point, North Carolina law will forever prevent you from trying to hold the at-fault party financially accountable for the consequences of their negligent actions.

What It Means if the Claims Adjuster “Ghosts” You

Let’s say that you tried to settle your injury claim instead of filing a lawsuit. You handled your claim on your own without the help of a lawyer. The claims adjuster seemed friendly and cooperative. Months went by. Every now and then, the claims adjuster would ask you for some additional information or documents.

The insurance company finally made an offer, but it seemed quite low. The offer would not even pay your medical expenses or lost wages from when you were recuperating from your wounds. Yet, when you presented a counteroffer, the insurance company didn’t respond. What happens now?

Every insurance company must adhere to good faith practices when processing claims. If the insurer seemingly disappears overnight, you could benefit from hiring a lawyer. Not only can they take on negotiations, but they can manage the process of compelling damages from the liable insurer.

Four Things You Should Know About Seeking an Insurance Settlement

You can uphold your right to compensation if you understand the statute of limitations and its impact on your personal injury or wrongful death claim. Yet, the claims adjuster might not tell you about any approaching deadlines, hoping that you’ll lose the chance to seek damages.

Here are some things you should know while navigating the claims process:

  1. The claims adjuster does not work for you. The claims adjuster works for the insurance company, which makes its profits by paying as little money as possible on injury claims.
  2. The claims adjuster has no legal obligation to make you a fair offer. North Carolina law does not require insurance companies to pay injured people the amount they deserve. Insurers are not allowed to refuse to pay valid claims without justification, but they can use tactics (like delaying until the statute of limitations expires) to avoid paying claims.
  3. You should not give the claims adjuster a recorded statement. The claims adjuster might ask you to give a recorded statement under the pretense of telling your side of the story. Yet, the real reason they want to record your responses is to find inconsistencies in your story, allowing them to offer less than you truly deserve.
  4. The insurance company can access your social media accounts and use what it finds against you. You might want to take a complete break from posting on social media until after your case gets resolved. Your photos and comments can get taken out of context by the insurance company.

These are but a few examples of many things you should know about the claims process moving forward. If you’re unsure about navigating the process alone, you can reach out to our personal injury lawyers.

What You Have to Prove to Hold the Responsible Party Liable

When you file your personal injury case, in addition to filing before the statute of limitations expires, you must prove the other party’s negligence. This requires proving these four elements:

  • Duty of care. The other party must have owed you a legal duty of care. For example, in a car accident case, all drivers must follow the rules of the road.
  • Breach of duty. Next, you must show how the other party violated their duty of care. A motorist who drives while intoxicated breaches their duty of care because they put others at risk of injury.
  • Causation. The negligent conduct must be what caused the collision. For example, the drunk driver crashed into another vehicle when they lost consciousness at the wheel.
  • Measurable damages. The accident victim must have quantifiable losses to hold the negligent driver financially accountable for your accident and injuries. Your medical bills and lost income would satisfy this element.

Whitley Law Firm can establish each of these elements in your accident case. With a lawyer, you don’t have to worry about gathering evidence; we take care of that for you.

Filing Your Lawsuit on Time Lets You Seek These Damages

Lawyer Signing a Paper Inside the Law Firm

The amount of compensation you could pursue will depend on the facts of your case. Every personal injury claim is unique. Based on your condition’s severity, compensable losses could comprise:

  • Lost tips, bonuses, benefits, and hourly rates
  • Medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Property damage costs (if applicable)

If your close relative passed away from their injuries, you also have financial recovery options. In a successful case, you could recover damages for funeral expenses, end-of-life care costs, and other related expenses.

Explore Your Legal Options With Whitley Law Firm

Whitley Law Firm offers free consultations on personal injury and wrongful death cases. If you have questions about how long you have to file a lawsuit, give us a call. Come and find out about how the Whitley Advantage could help you and your family. Dial (919) 785-5000 to get started.