It may take years to fully recover from a serious personal injury. But if you take too many years to pursue a civil lawsuit or workers’ compensation claim for that injury, you may be entirely out of luck. That is because in North Carolina, as in every other state, personal injury and workers’ compensation claims have expiration dates as prescribed in North Carolina’s personal injury statute of limitations and workers’ compensation law.
If you attempt to file a personal injury lawsuit after the expiration of the statute of limitations, a judge will dismiss your case, and you will lose your right to obtain any compensation whatsoever. You will inadvertently deprive your family and yourself of money and resources you may desperately need and certainly deserve.
That is why it is crucial to contact an experienced North Carolina personal injury and workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as possible after your accident. Speaking with an attorney does not necessarily mean that you’ll file a lawsuit. But it does mean you are taking the necessary steps to protect your rights and preserve your ability to hold accountable the person who upended your life.
What Is a Personal Injury “Statute of Limitations” in North Carolina?
Simply put, a statute of limitations is the law’s way of saying, “if you snooze, you lose.” It is a law that establishes the time within which a person can file a case in court seeking compensation or other remedies. Once the applicable limitations period runs out, the right to file a lawsuit ends.
Three-Year Statute of Limitations in North Carolina for Most Personal Injury Lawsuits
In many types of North Carolina accident and injury cases, the individual who wants to file a lawsuit to recover compensation must file their claim within three years after the accident or incident that caused their injury. This three-year personal injury statute of limitations applies to injuries and damages sustained in almost every type of incident such as car, truck, and motorcycle accidents, boat accidents, and slip and fall accidents,.
“Tolling” of the Statute of Limitations in North Carolina
Some circumstances may also allow for delaying – or “tolling” – the start date of a limitations period in a North Carolina personal injury lawsuit. For example, a legally incompetent injury victim or one under the age of 18 cannot file a civil suit on their own behalf in North Carolina. In such cases, the statute of limitations will be tolled until the injury victim turns 18 or when the victim regains their competence.
Workers’ Compensation Claims Have Much Shorter Deadlines
Claims for injuries or illnesses arising from work-related activities are handled under North Carolina’s workers’ compensation system. That system, and the rules that govern on-the-job injury claims, stand separate and apart from the laws and rules that apply to other types of personal injuries. This includes different – and much shorter – deadlines for starting the claims process.
Unlike other personal injury claims, multiple deadlines apply to work injury claims. The first of these relates to the time within which you must report your accident or injury to your employer. While you should notify your employer immediately or as soon as possible after your accident, you must provide written notice to your employer within 30 days after the accident. Unless the Industrial Commission finds that you had a “reasonable excuse” for not giving notice within that time, failure to notify your employer will bar any claim for workers’ compensation benefits.
If you gave your employer the required notice within 30 days, you then have two years after the date of your accident or injury to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.
Ricci Law Firm: Experienced and Committed North Carolina Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation Lawyers
The three-year North Carolina statute of limitations for most personal injury claims and two-year period for filing a workers’ compensation claim may seem like a long time, but it’s not. Many innocent injury victims discover too late that they waited too long to take legal action. If you suffered injuries due to another person’s negligence, don’t lose the right to obtain compensation for your losses. Contact Ricci Law Firm today to arrange for a free consultation to discuss your claim.