The statute of limitations sets a legal time limit for how long you have to file a lawsuit for compensation and varies depending on the type of claim and where the lawsuit is filed.
The North Carolina personal injury statute of limitations is generally three years, per G.S. §1-52. However, there are exceptions to this law. A personal injury lawyer can help you understand what the specific deadline is for your case.
Our team at Whitley Law Firm will provide a free consultation to help you understand the statutes applying to your case and possible next steps—call (919) 785-5000 today to learn more.
Why You Shouldn’t Wait to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit in North Carolina
While three years may seem like a long time, filing your claim promptly is beneficial for several reasons, such as:
- Evidence is often time-sensitive. If you wait too long, witnesses may forget what they saw, or nearby businesses may erase their CCTV footage of the accident before your lawyer can get to it.
- Personal injury claims can be time-consuming and complex, so your personal injury lawyer will need enough time to investigate the cause of your injuries and build a strong, evidence-backed case.
After an injury, you should consider the best course of action for your circumstances to avoid losing the compensation you deserve.
What Exceptions Exist to North Carolina’s Personal Injury Statute of Limitations?
Most personal injury cases have a direct, readily identifiable cause. If you are in a car accident, for example, you will likely become aware of any serious injuries immediately or shortly after the crash. As a result, most motor vehicle accident claims are typically subject to North Carolina’s three-year statute of limitations.
However, sometimes determining an injury’s cause (or even an injury’s existence) is more complex. In these cases, the “rule of discovery” applies. This is beneficial if you do not become aware of an injury until some time has passed.
The Rule of Discovery
For example, cases involving an illness developed years after exposure to dangerous chemicals such as asbestos are good examples of when the rule of discovery could apply. In these cases, you can bring a lawsuit within three years of discovering the injury or illness.
Per G.S. §1-52(16), claims brought under this exception are viable for up to 10 years after the most recent event that contributed to the injury. This is called the “statute of repose,” or the maximum time to take a case to court.
Below we’ll explain a few other types of injury claims and the statutes of limitations that apply:
Statute of Limitations in NC for Product Liability Lawsuits
Defective product claims are subject to the same three-year statute of limitations as other personal injury claims. However, an additional stipulation exists, giving consumers up to 12 years after buying a product to file a lawsuit for injuries sustained due to a defect, per G.S. § 1-46.1.
So, even if the defect did not cause the product to fail immediately after your initial purchase, you could still file suit within three years of the injury, as long as no more than 12 years have passed.
Statute of Limitations in NC for Wrongful Death Lawsuits
If a family member passes away due to someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing, surviving families have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit within two years of their loved one’s death date, per G.S. § 1-53.
Statute of Limitations in NC for Work Injury Claims
In addition to notifying their employer within 30 days, injured workers must file workers’ compensation claims within years of an on-the-job injury or occupational illness, per the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act § 97-58.
In most cases, workers do not have the right to sue their employer. However, personal injury claims against a negligent third party responsible for a workplace accident, such as manufacturers of faulty equipment or subcontractors who did not follow proper safety protocols, are subject to the standard three-year statute of limitations.
Statute of Limitations in NC for Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
Per G.S. § 1-15, you have two years from the date of the incident or one year from the date of discovery to file a medical malpractice lawsuit, with a four-year statute of repose.
If a surgeon leaves a foreign object inside a patient, the victim may file a lawsuit within one year of discovery, with a ten-year statute of repose.
Statute of Limitations in NC for Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuits
You have three years from the date of the incident or date of discovery to file a nursing home abuse lawsuit, with a four-year statute of repose.
Statute of Limitations in NC for Lawsuits Against a Municipality
If you want to file a lawsuit against a city or other municipality in North Carolina, you may face a shorter statute of limitations deadline. However, the time limit varies depending on which municipality you want to sue. Your lawyer can help you determine the statute of limitations in your unique circumstances.
Why Should You Have Whitley Law Firm Help You File Your Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Regardless of the circumstances of your injury, knowing how long you have to file a claim is crucial. This is because exceptions to the statute of limitations are narrow in scope, and the court may bar you from pursuing compensation if you miss the deadline.
Being injured is difficult for you and your family, so you should not have to worry about complications arising from the legal process that can shorten the time you have to claim, such as:
- Being unsure or anxious about navigating the legal process and the statute of limitations
- Facing challenges in locating and obtaining the evidence required to support your case
- Experiencing unreasonable delays from an insurance company
Let us help you lift this burden. We will tend to your needs with compassion and kindness, explain how applicable laws apply to your situation, and take the necessary steps to ensure we file your claim within the appropriate timeframe.
We will put our experience, skills, and knowledge to work for you as soon as we’re involved with your claim. This way, you do not have to worry about timely evidence collection, investigation of the liable party or parties, and filing your claim with the appropriate court and within the statute of limitations.
Our personal injury attorneys have over 80 years of combined experience representing seriously injured clients in North Carolina. We understand the impact of a severe injury on your health, family, and future, and we want to help. Let us manage the pressure of filing your claim on time, so you can focus on your recovery.
Contact Whitley Law Firm for a Free Personal Injury Case Consultation Today
You can count on Whitley Law Firm to relentlessly pursue the successful resolution of your case. Our team will work hard to obtain the compensation you deserve. When you hire us, we’ll get to work immediately and ensure you have the support and guidance you need.
To learn more about how we can help, call Whitley Law Firm at (919) 785-5000 today for a free case review. We will help you understand how the personal injury statute of limitations in North Carolina applies to your situation. We serve clients throughout North Carolina from our offices in Raleigh, Kinston, and New Bern.