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What Is the Statute of Limitations in North Carolina for Personal Injury?

On Behalf of Christian Ayers
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If you are hurt by another party’s misconduct or negligence in North Carolina, you likely have grounds to start a personal injury claim against them to recover the losses they caused you to suffer. However, this is a complex process that can be very demanding for anyone who is recovering from painful injuries. Additionally, you have a limited time in which to file your claim, or you could permanently lose your chance to secure compensation for your damages.

Understanding the Statute of Limitations for Your Claim

North Carolina’s statute of limitations for personal injury claims is three years from the date an injury occurs. This may seem like a generous time limit, but if a victim attempted to wait out their recovery before attempting to file their case independently, they would likely have very little time to compile an effective case. They would also be likely to overlook crucial details of their case that can significantly influence their final recoveries.

It is always best to consult a personal injury attorney as quickly as possible after any workplace injury. The sooner you secure legal counsel, the more time they have to work on your case, and the easier it will be to ensure your claim meets the statute of limitations. If the root cause of your personal injury can’t be immediately discerned, the statute of limitations pauses until the harm is discovered. The same three-year statute of limitations applies starting on the date of discovery.

How to File Your Personal Injury Case

Every personal injury claim revolves around one party’s claimed loss resulting from another party’s actions. A personal injury claim may pertain to an act of negligence or a specific act of illegal misconduct. Whatever your claim entails, you must be prepared to prove the foundational elements of liability to succeed:

  • You must identify the defendant or defendant you believe is liable for your damages. In addition, you must show they held a duty of care in the situation leading up to your injury. For example, every driver has a duty of care to operate their vehicle attentively.
  • You must prove the defendant’s willful misconduct or negligence was a direct breach of this duty of care. This may require proving that another person in the same situation would have acted differently to limit harm to yourself or others.
  • You must provide the court with a complete and accurate list of all the damages you are seeking from the defendant. You can claim full repayment of all your economic losses, and your attorney will assist you in determining whether you can include other damages in your civil suit.
  • You must show your claimed economic damages are the direct results of the defendant’s actions and that your claimed non-economic damages accurately reflect the scope and severity of your experience.

It is crucial for anyone who intends to start a personal injury lawsuit in North Carolina to understand the state’s contributory negligence law. In addition to ensuring you meet the statute of limitations for your personal injury suit, you must also ensure that you bear no partial liability for any damages you are claiming from the defendant. The state’s contributory negligence law prohibits a plaintiff from recovering civil damages if they bear partial responsibility for causing those damages. If there are any concerns about bearing partial liability for your personal injury,it’s vital to consult an experienced personal injury attorney as quickly as possible. A defendant may falsely assert contributory negligence in an effort to deflect their own liability, but a good attorney can help you counter any such claims.

An experienced attorney can assist you in compiling whatever evidence, testimony, and supporting documentation you need for a solid civil claim for damages. Reaching out to an attorney as quickly as possible after your injury ensures you can meet the statute of limitations and that your claim can unfold uninterrupted by procedural issues.

Economic Damages in North Carolina Personal Injury Claims

North Carolina allows the plaintiff of a personal injury lawsuit to claim compensation for any economic damages the defendant caused. These are typically proven with the appropriate documentation and may include:

  • Medical expenses for treating injuries the defendant caused. The plaintiff can hold the defendant accountable for any and all costs for medical treatment they incurred because of the defendant’s actions.
  • Lost income from the victim’s recovery time. The defendant is liable for your lost wages if your personal injury forced you to miss work. If you can’t return to your job due to your injury, they also face liability for your lost earning capacity.
  • Property losses include the cost of repairing the victim’s home or vehicle damaged by the defendant’s actions.

A plaintiff could also have grounds to receive other forms of compensation beyond repayment of these economic losses. State law permits a personal injury plaintiff to recover pain and suffering compensation in proportion to how severe their injuries are. There is no limit on how much they can claim unless their personal injury action is a medical malpractice claim. In this case, their non-economic damages are limited to $500,000 by state law.

It is also possible for a plaintiff to receive punitive damages if the defendant caused their personal injury through intentional misconduct or criminal behavior of any kind. Punitive damages aren’t claimed directly by the plaintiff and are instead awarded at the discretion of the judge handling the case.

Find Your Legal Team Today

Ultimately, every personal injury claim is unique, and even though the three-year statute of limitations may seem generous for your case, it is always best to seek legal representation as quickly as possible after any personal injury. Ayers, Whitlow & Dressler has extensive professional experience helping North Carolina clients resolve all types of civil claims for damages, including complex personal injury cases.

Whether you need assistance identifying the parties bearing fault for your injury or don’t know the full breadth of damages you can claim from a defendant; we can help. Contact Ayers, Whitlow & Dressler today to learn more about how an attorney can help you meet the procedural demands of your personal injury claim in North Carolina.