What Are the Statute of Limitations for a Personal Injury Case in North Carolina?

A personal injury case can stem from a variety of incidents that involve the negligence of another. Therefore whether the injury stems from a slip-and-fall, auto accident, assault, or something else, the best recourse is seeking compensation through a personal injury claim. There are two renowned ways of seeking compensation in a personal injury lawsuit in North Carolina, either through the North Carolina civil court system or an out-of-court settlement. In both instances, one must adhere to the statute of limitations.

Contacting a good wrongful death lawyer after you get into an accident will always help you get useful information to avoid being caught up with statutory time.

The question most people ask is, what exactly does the North Carolina statute of limitations entail? For clarity, the statute of limitations limits the time within which you can file a personal injury claim. Under the North Carolina General Statutes, Section 16 provides that suits or claims for personal injuries should be filed within a timeline of three years from the time of the injury. Suppose you suffer personal injuries resulting from another’s actions. In that case, the best step for you should be to get in touch with a lawyer to launch your claim within the provided statutory period.

Why the Three-Year Limitation Period?

Among the most-filed cases in North Carolina are personal injury cases. Therefore the North Carolina civil courts get to handle thousands of cases, subsequently leading to a backlog of cases involving personal injury law. Also, proving negligence on the part of the defendant is not easy. That is why most accident victims are always advised to retain a lawyer. Additionally, before the court enters its decision in a personal injury case, the elements of negligence must be established. Since documents get lost, and people lose memories of the occurrence of events, it is crucial that a matter is heard and determined while memories are still fresh.

Therefore, three years is enough time for one to have commenced a claim in a personal injury case from the time a cause of action arose.

When Is the Date of the Cause of Action?

When the clock for the statute of limitations starts to tick, that becomes the date of the cause of action. Every pleading filed in a personal injury claim must refer to the accident’s date that resulted in the personal injuries; otherwise, a defendant can raise a preliminary objection that seeks to strike out your pleadings. For personal injury claims, the cause of action arises on the date of the accident. Most accidents leave victims with visible injuries right after the accident.

In North Carolina, the three-year limitation period applies to all types of personal injuries, whether from an intentional tort like battery or from negligence like a road accident.

What Missing the Deadline Means

Missing the deadline is an automatic defense on the part of the defendant. As the victim, you lose your right to sue for compensation because a keen defendant will take note of the date and file a motion to dismiss your case. A good lawyer will always be quick to ask about the date of the accident or assault because the intent is to ensure that your case gets filed within three years. The good news for personal injury cases is that there are instances that warrant exceptions.

Exceptions to the North Carolina Statute of Limitations

Some of the exceptions that can warrant an extension on the statute of limitations include the following:

Legal Disability

Insane persons, minors, and anyone considered legally disabled according to North Carolina law is exempted from the three-year limitation period. Once the legal disability is lifted, then the time can begin running.

Defendant Is Out of State

The defendant doesn’t need to reside in North Carolina. However, continuous absentia of such a person can act as an excuse for filing outside the statutory period. If the party to be sued is outside North Carolina, get in touch with your lawyer for advice on the way forward.


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