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Can I Extend the Statute of Limitations Deadline in My Personal Injury Case?

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Personal injury attorneys always advise accident victims not to delay in claiming damages from the party allegedly responsible. That is because the legal right to file such a suit expires when the statute of limitations runs out. In North Carolina, an injured party has three years after the date of the incident to bring a claim. The limit is two years if your injury claim is against the federal government. In a wrongful death case, suit must be filed within two years of the date of death.

While statutes of limitation are generally hard and fast, exceptions and extensions are sometimes available. The statute of limitations is tolled — that is, suspended from running — during the time that:

  • The injured party is a minor (under the age of 18).
  • The injured party is mentally disabled at the time of the injury
  • A defendant is out of state (if the absence is for more than a year)

In the case of disability, the statute cannot be tolled more than five years in total nor longer than one year after the disability ceases. Another tolling provision allows victims of sexual abuse to bring a civil suit for damages for up to six years after reaching age 21.

An important extension of the statute of limitations is known as the discovery rule, which applies in cases where the injury or medical condition is not immediately apparent. The statute of limitations does not begin to run until the injury or condition is discovered or reasonably should have been discovered.

In addition to the statute of limitations, North Carolina has statutes of repose that place outside deadlines on filing certain types of personal injury lawsuits, namely:

  • Product defect cases (twelve years after the initial purchase)
  • Medical malpractice (four years, or ten years if a doctor leaves a foreign object in your body)

A knowledgeable personal injury attorney can advise you about how the North Carolina statutes of limitations and repose will affect your ability to file a personal injury claim. Call The Carolina Law Group at 252-672-2059 or contact us online for a free initial consultation at our New Bern, Havelock or Morehead City office.

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