What Is the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims in NC?
The statute of limitations is the legal term for the length of time someone has to bring a particular type of claim. In personal injury cases, it is how long injured people have to sue the party or parties responsible for their injuries. Generally, the court will bar claims brought after the statute of limitations expires (although some exceptions apply).
In North Carolina, the majority of personal injury claims must be brought within three years of the date the injury occurred. Three years may seem like a long time, but you don’t want to lose the opportunity to seek compensation for injuries and losses you suffer due to another’s negligence.
For a free consultation to discuss the statute of limitations and what it means for your case, please contact the Whitley Law Firm today. Our attorneys handle claims involving serious and catastrophic personal injury throughout North Carolina.
How Long Do I Have to File a Personal Injury Claim in NC?
Most cases of personal injury have a direct, readily identifiable cause. If you are in a car accident, for example, you will likely become aware of any serious injuries either immediately or shortly after the crash.
As a result, most motor vehicle accident claims are subject to North Carolina’s three-year statute of limitations.
However, sometimes the cause of an injury (or even the existence of an injury) is less straightforward. In these cases the “rule of discovery” applies.
You can bring a claim within three years of the date that the injury was discovered or should reasonably have been discovered. Claims brought under this exception are viable for up to 10 years after the event that caused the injury. (This is known as the statute of repose, or the absolute maximum amount of time to take a case to court.)
Certain types of injury claims are subject to a different statute of limitations:
Statute of Limitations in NC for Medical Malpractice
Patients may not immediately realize that a doctor made a mistake in their care. Injuries and other complications may not become apparent until years after the fact.
Unfortunately, the law in North Carolina is often not on the side of those who are harmed by medical negligence. Most medical malpractice claims are subject to a statute of limitations of three years. However, in cases where the harm caused by medical negligence is not discovered until two or more years after the fact, the rule of discovery only extends one additional year. In addition, malpractice claims must be filed within four years of the last incident of negligent medical care.
Different rules apply in medical malpractice claims where a foreign object is left inside of a patient’s body. In these cases, patients have one year from the date of discovery to file a lawsuit within a maximum of 10 years from the date of the surgery where the error occurred.
Statute of Limitations in NC for Product Liability
Defective product claims are subject to the same three-year statute of limitations as other types of personal injury claims. However, consumers have up to 12 years after they bought a product to file a lawsuit for injuries sustained as a result of a defect.
So, if the defect did not cause the product to fail until several years after your initial purchase, you can still bring a claim for injury within three years (or more, if your injury was discovered at a later date).
Statute of Limitations in NC for Wrongful Death
If your loved one is killed by the negligence of another, you have two years to file a wrongful death claim. The “clock” on these cases starts to run on the date that the individual dies.
Statute of Limitations in NC for Work Injury
Claims for workers’ compensation must be filed within two years of an on-the-job injury or occupational illness. In most cases, workers do not have the right to sue an employer.
However, personal injury claims against a negligent party liable for a workplace accident are subject to the standard three year statute of limitations.
Why You Shouldn’t Wait to Bring a Claim
Regardless of the circumstances of your injury, it is crucial to know how long you have to file a claim. Exceptions to the statute of limitations are narrow in scope, and the court will bar you from pursuing compensation if you miss the deadline.
Since there are so many different rules and exceptions that may apply to any given case, it is important to consult a lawyer as soon as possible. Doing so improves the likelihood that you will recover the compensation you deserve.
An experienced lawyer will begin building your case immediately. This ensures timely collection of evidence, investigation of the liable party or parties, and filing of your claim with the appropriate court and within the statute of limitations.
Don’t Let the Statute of Limitations Expire
Personal injury attorneys at the Whitley Law Firm have more than 80 years of combined experience representing clients in North Carolina. We know the law, including the pressure created by the statute of limitations.
With the Whitley Advantage, you can count on our team to relentlessly pursue the successful resolution of your claim. Our team works hard to pursue the compensation you deserve. When you hire us, we get to work on your case right away and consistently communicate with you to ensure you have the support and guidance you need.
Please call the Whitley Law Firm at (919) 785-5000 today for a free case review. Our personal injury lawyers serve clients throughout North Carolina from offices in Raleigh, Kinston, and New Bern.