Since North Carolina follows the “at-fault” system for personal injury cases, you can sue the liable party for any economic and non-economic damages they caused you. However, you can’t take forever. There is a time limit for filing a car accident lawsuit and you must be mindful of it.
Reach out to a capable Charlotte car accident lawyer to understand the statute of limitations in North Carolina and take action accordingly.
What Is The Statute Of Limitations In North Carolina
The statute of limitations is a law that puts a time limit to how long after an accident can you file a lawsuit for damages. This statutory limit prevents wrongful lawsuits. It protects the rights of the defendant by safeguarding them from legal action when most of the evidence that could’ve been used to defend themselves may not exist anymore.
In North Carolina, as per the NC General Statutes – Chapter 1 Article 5, you have until three years from the time of the injury or accident to file a lawsuit for damages. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule but it applies in most cases and it’s best if you stick to the time limit.
How And When Should You File A Car Accident Claim
In most cases, you won’t even have to see the inside of a courtroom to get compensated for your damages. But in any case, when you sustain damage due to another driver’s negligence, you must report the incident to the police, seek medical attention, and call an attorney.
Your lawyer should be the first person you discuss your case with. Avoid discussing liability with the other party, don’t apologize (even for being nice), and don’t leave the accident scene before the police officer arrives, even if the other party does.
Discuss the case details and timeline with your attorney – wait until you know the full extent of your losses and then file a personal injury claim. But of course, you must respect the three-year limit that comes with the statute of limitations.
What Should You Do After an Accident
As soon as you’re in a car accident (and let’s say that the other driver was liable), you must take control of the situation. Assess your condition, park your car safely on the side, and exchange information with the other party for the liability claim.
Again – at this point, you must not discuss liability, leave that to the lawyers.
Also, while you’re at it, whip out your cell phone and photograph the accident scene, both vehicles, your injuries, and other damages. If you feel like recording a video to better capture certain aspects of the accident, you can do that too.
Wait for the reporting officer to come over and tell them what happened.
You can get a copy of the police report later on, but in the meantime, seek medical assistance as soon as you can. This way, you can get properly diagnosed for the extent of damages you have sustained. Also, keep track of any costs and bills associated with your situation.
It’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible. If you delay seeking medical treatment, it can hurt your chances of recovering compensation. The other driver’s insurance company can argue that your injuries were not caused by the accident or were not serious.
And as soon as you can, call a Charlotte car accident lawyer.
What Happens If You Move Past The Statute Of Limitations
The reason why the timeframe dictated by the statute of limitations is so important is that you only have until this time limit to file your lawsuit. If you exceed the 3-year time limit, you can’t file your suit, and if you do, it will be rejected.
The reason is simple – once the statutory time limit passes, the sad incident is no longer a recent occurrence. This means that the witnesses involved may have forgotten what happened, the defendant may not be able to recall key details, and so on.
Proceeding with a lawsuit long after the said incident would pin the odds against the defendant’s favor and blur the lines between facts and accusations.
Reach out to a Charlotte car accident attorney and see what would be the ideal timeline for your case.
Exceptions Of The Statutory Limitations In North Carolina
The most notable exceptions to the statute of limitations in North Carolina include:
- The discovery rule; according to the NCGS 1-52 (16), if the exact nature of the damage is not revealed until afterward, the victim can file a lawsuit later on.
- If the claimant is under 18 (the clock starts when they turn 18).
- The defendant was not present in the state following the said accident (the clock resumes when they return).
A Qualified Charlotte Car Accident Lawyer Can Make A Difference
Of course, the best approach to such delicate matters is to reach out to an experienced Charlotte car accident attorney. The clock starts ticking from the moment the accident happened, so you need to be proactive and discuss your case with us.
We offer a free initial consultation for new clients, so don’t hesitate to call us for an appointment!