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Statute of Limitations in Personal Injury Cases

Do you believe you have a personal injury case? If so, you should know about the statute of limitations that applies to your situation. At Stewart Law Offices, we can help you through the process of filing your lawsuit on time. We’ll help you seek justice and compensation for your injuries without letting critical legal deadlines pass.

Don’t delay in fighting for what you deserve. Contact Stewart Law Offices today for a free consultation.

What Is the Statute of Limitations?

A statute of limitations is a state law that specifies how long you have to file a lawsuit after a particular incident, such as a car accident or workplace injury. If you try to file a personal injury lawsuit after the statute of limitations expires, the court will likely refuse to hear your case. If this happens, you can lose your right to seek compensation and accountability from liable parties in legal proceedings.

So, why do we have this rule? Promoting fairness and preserving evidence are the two main reasons. The courts want to ensure that legal claims are brought in a timely manner. Over time, evidence can get lost, and witnesses’ memories can fade. Witnesses might move away or forget the details of what they saw. By setting a deadline, the law encourages people to act promptly and ensures that any personal injury cases that go to court still have reliable evidence available.

It’s worth noting that the statute of limitations isn’t a one-size-fits-all rule. It can differ depending on where you live. Each state sets its own time limit based on the type of case you have. For instance, the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit for a car accident might be different in North Carolina compared to South Carolina. That’s why knowing the specific deadlines in your state is essential for protecting your right to take legal action.

The statute of limitations is like a ticking clock on your ability to seek justice. It generally starts the moment you suffer your injury. Knowing how much time you have is the first step in taking action. If you think you have a case, it’s wise to talk to a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible so you can identify important deadlines and file lawsuits within the required timeframe.

What Deadline Applies to My Personal Injury Case?

The filing deadline for your personal injury case will depend on the state where your injury occurred and the nature of your claim. Let’s review the standard filing deadlines for various types of injury claims in both North Carolina and South Carolina:

North Carolina Law

North Carolina’s legal deadlines for personal injury claims include the following:

  • Car Accidents – If you’re involved in an auto accident in North Carolina, the general rule is you have three years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit for any injuries you suffer. This same three-year statute applies to most personal injury cases that arise in the state.
  • Workplace Accident Claims – If you get hurt on the job, you must inform your employer about your injury as soon as possible, but no later than 30 days after the accident. If you have a workers’ compensation claim, North Carolina gives you two years from the accident date to submit your claim to the North Carolina Industrial Commission.
  • Wrongful Death Claims – For wrongful death cases in North Carolina, there is a two-year statute of limitations that begins on the date of the deceased person’s death.

South Carolina Law

In South Carolina, things are slightly different. Here’s how long you have to file the following types of personal injury lawsuits in the Palmetto State:

  • Car Accident Claims – In South Carolina, you have three years from the accident date to file a lawsuit for injuries resulting from a car accident. This is the same statute of limitations for personal injury cases in other types of accidents, too. If you were injured because of someone else’s negligence, the limitations deadline in South Carolina is typically three years from the accident date.
  • Workplace Accident Claims – South Carolina requires you to notify your employer of a workplace injury within 90 days of the accident. When filing a workers’ compensation claim, you have two years from the date of injury to file your claim. In the case of a repetitive injury, you have two years from the date you discovered or should have discovered the injury to file.
  • Wrongful Death Claims – If you’re pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit in South Carolina, the law requires you to file within three years of the deceased person’s death.
    If you are unsure what statute of limitations applies to your case, consider seeking legal assistance from an experienced attorney who can evaluate your claim and explain the various legal aspects of the case to you.

Legal Complications Regarding Statutes of Limitations

Even though state laws set strict statutes of limitations for personal injury claims, there are special situations where the filing window could be longer or shorter. These legal complexities can modify the statute of limitations deadline. Let’s look at a few key exceptions:

  • Tolling – Tolling is when the law pauses or delays the countdown toward the filing deadline. This can happen for several reasons, such as if the injured party is a minor or if the defendant is out of the state and can’t be sued right away. The clock stops until the obstacle goes away, like when the minor turns 18 or when the defendant returns to the state.
  • The Discovery Rule – Not all injuries are immediately apparent. The discovery rule applies when you couldn’t have known about an injury right when it happened. For instance, the effects of an accident or a surgical mistake might not show up immediately. If you discover your injury later, the law might let you start the clock from the moment you find out, not the moment the injury happened.
  • Other Exceptions – There are other possible exceptions, too. For instance, if an injured person is mentally incapacitated, the countdown might pause until their mental disability is removed and they are capable of making legal decisions or a conservator is appointed for them. Each state has its own set of rules for when you might have more or less time to file your lawsuit.

It’s important to talk to a lawyer if you think an exception could apply to your case. They can help you understand if you have extra time to make your claim and advise you on the ideal path forward.

It is also possible that you could have less time to file your personal injury claim, such as if your case is against a government entity or someone operating a government vehicle at the time of the accident. An experienced personal injury attorney can review your case and guide you through the legal process so you meet all critical filing deadlines.

Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney for Assistance

Are you unsure about your next steps after an injury? Remember, the clock is ticking. Acting fast is the key to safeguarding your legal rights. Stewart Law Offices is here to stand by your side and help you take swift action. Contact us now for a free consultation and take the first step toward getting the help you need.