What is the Statute of Limitations for Auto Accidents in North Carolina?
Statutes of limitations are laws designed to establish time limits on the right to bring a lawsuit. Here, Dewey Ramsay, and Hunt, P.A. explains the intricacies and exceptions to the statute of limitations. It’s crucial for people to understand the statute of limitations for car accidents in North Carolina because the statutory period of three years goes by quickly when you’re trying to recover from injuries.
While most people begin by filing an insurance claim, it’s helpful to consult with an attorney during this time. As noted above, in North Carolina, you have three years to file a lawsuit. States create these rules to preserve the integrity of the legal process by promoting the filing of claims while memories and evidence remain intact. There are certain exceptions to this three-year period, but they are only allowed under unfair circumstances or as prescribed by statutes. Our Charlotte car accident lawyers explain the importance of filing an auto collision claim by the deadline set in North Carolina.
Does the Statute of Limitations Apply to Insurance Claims?
Statutes of limitations only apply to judicial proceedings. Your insurance company’s timeline is dictated by North Carolina’s State Insurance Department. However, it’s key to be mindful that you can waste valuable time to file your personal injury claim during the time you wait for your insurance settlement. To learn more about time limits after your car accident, you should contact a qualified attorney who can advocate on your behalf with the insurance company and give you a clear picture of your timeline to pursue a personal injury claim. At Dewey, Ramsay, and Hunt, we handle negotiate with insurance agents and help our clients obtain compensation in a personal injury claim.
Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Cases
If a car accident results in someone’s death, the family or representatives of the deceased can file a claim for the wrongful death of their loved one. The filing deadline in these cases is two years. The clock starts running on the day the injured victim dies. A lawyer at Dewey, Ramsay, and Hunt can help you seek recovery through this difficult time of losing a loved one.
Claims filed after the statute of limitations passes are dismissed. Irrespective of whether you have a strong claim and deserve justice, your case will not proceed.
Exceptions to Statute of Limitations
While there is typically no dispute as to the date a car accident occurs, there are situations when courts will make an exception. Failing to file a lawsuit within the time limit dictated by the statute of limitations is excused when the delay “has been induced by acts, representations, or conduct, the repudiation of which would amount to a breach of good faith.” Nowell v. Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co (1959).
The holding in Nowell is the basis for the legal doctrine of “equitable tolling.” This exception is rarely allowed, but a skilled lawyer can forcefully advocate in your favor under the right circumstances. The legal term “equitable” is generally used to address an unjust situation where justice requires deviation from written laws.
The Importance of Timeliness When Filing a Lawsuit
The facts surrounding a car accident are not always clear. The drivers need to take care of their injuries and often have to rely on the statements of police reports and witnesses. Sometimes it takes a long time to retrieve the information necessary to prove someone was negligent. When key information is obtained after a personal injury lawsuit is filed, some amendments are denied if filed in violation of the statute of limitations.
Even if you file your lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires, a court is not required to accept changes if they are filed past the deadline. You can face serious problems if you have to modify your court filings. Courts may accept minor changes. However, if the modifications include substantial legal claims or names of defendants, the modifications may not proceed if considered past the deadline.
Under the state’s Rules of Civil Procedure, a lawyer can amend a court document, but this amendment must relate back to the original complaint. The North Carolina Supreme Court clearly noted that:
“When the amendment seeks to add a party-defendant or substitute a party-defendant to the suit, the required notice cannot occur. As a matter of course, the original claim cannot give notice of the transactions or occurrences to be proved in the amended pleading to a defendant who is not aware of his status as such when the original claim is filed. We hold that this rule does not apply to the naming of a new party-defendant to the action. It is not authority for the relation back of a claim against a new party. Crossman v. Moore (1995)”
Contact a Skilled Legal Representative to Avoid Statute of Limitations Issues
In a nutshell, it’s in your best interest to seek all the facts and file your claim with enough time to make any necessary changes. Facts in car accidents can arise after your file a lawsuit. And to make proper amendments, these filings cannot violate the timeline dictated by the statute of limitations. Call the Charlotte personal injury lawyers at Dewey, Ramsay, and Hunt at (704) 377-3737 if you have questions about the timeline after your car accident.