Every state, including North Carolina, sets a deadline for when you can file your personal injury claim. The court does this for a few reasons. First, they don’t want to clog up the court system with old cases. And, second, they don’t want defendants surprised with lawsuits years after the injuries took place.
In North Carolina, the statute of limitation is three (3) years. This means that you have to file suit within 3 years of the date of your accident. If you miss this deadline, the court will probably dismiss your claim.
If they dismiss your case for lack of prosecution, you will be forever barred from filing suit. There are very few exceptions to this rule. This is why it’s so important that you reach out to a Charlotte personal injury attorney immediately following your accident.
Three years sounds like a long time. But it goes by surprisingly fast, you don’t want to let too much time go by. Your Charlotte personal injury attorney needs time to prepare your case. Don’t make his job any harder than it has to be.
Your Charlotte Personal Injury Attorney Knows How the Statute of Limitations Works
A lot of people wonder how the statute of limitations works in North Carolina. Basically, you have three (3) years to file suit in a personal injury case. The confusing part is when the three years starts. In North Carolina, the statute starts to run as follows:
- The date of your accident OR
- The date on which you noticed or should have noticed your injuries
- The date your loved one dies in a wrongful death action
- The date a minor turns 18 if he was underage at the time of the accident
A few of these are pretty easy to apply. The confusing situations involve cases where you don’t realize you’re hurt until months or years after your accident.
The general rule is that the three years starts when you realize you’re injured. However, the court will use a reasonable person standard when they set this date. If you were simply ignorant of your injuries, it won’t count. The court will ask when a normal person would have realized their injuries. That is the date that will apply.
Are There Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations in Charlotte?
Sometimes, people expect their lawyer to work miracles. If you miss the filing deadline, there’s not much your lawyer can do. Even the most experienced Charlotte personal injury attorney has no way to change the statute of limitations.
There are a few exceptions to the statute of limitations in North Carolina. However, they are few and far between. The court is reluctant to extend the statute for obvious reasons.
Why would a court not want to extend the deadline?
- You can’t sit back and let your injuries progress so you can demand more money
- The defendant shouldn’t have to be blindsided by a lawsuit several years after an accident
- It gets difficult to defend a case as it gets older. Evidence disappears and gets stale.
- You’re under an obligation to mitigate your damages. This means trying to resolve the matter through the defendant’s insurance as soon as possible.
The court does understand that there are limited situations in which the statute should be extended. These exceptions are:
- If you legitimately didn’t know you were sick. We see this a lot with product liability and dangerous drug cases. It could be years before symptoms show up.
- If you were a minor and couldn’t legally file your suit until you turned 18. However, the court will ask why your parents didn’t file suit on your behalf.
- The defendant disappeared and you weren’t able to find him. The defendant must leave the state for at least one (1) year for this exception to apply. The time they’re gone won’t count against your statute of limitations period.
- The court deemed you incompetent or insane for a period of time. They will extend the statute for that period of time.
Contact a Charlotte Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you have a personal injury case, don’t wait to reach out. Call and speak with a Charlotte personal injury attorney today. You don’t want to risk missing the statute of limitations deadline. If you do, your claim will be barred forever.
If you’ve already missed the deadline, the only thing your lawyer can do is file your suit and hope nobody file a motion to dismiss your claim. In most cases, the court will summarily dismiss your claim if it’s outside the statute. However, if they don’t, the defendant will more than likely file a motion to have it dismissed.
Call and schedule your free initial consultation today. It’s free and you pay nothing until you settle your case.