What is a Statue of Limitations? — Principal and Managing Attorney, Clair Campbell, explains the statute of limitations in North and South Carolina and why it may be in your best interest to contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible following an accident or injury. If you are the victim of an accident or injury, contact our experienced personal injury lawyers at 704-333-0885 or schedule a free consultation today.
What is the Statute of Limitations in North and South Carolina?
I want to chat with you for a few minutes about the statute of limitations. In North Carolina, for someone injured due to the negligence of another, it’s three years as long as a death is not involved. If you have a death resulting from the negligence of another, the statute is reduced to two years.
For South Carolina, the statute is also three years. Following a death, it’s two years. For workers’ comp, in both states, you’ve got two years to file a claim, but there are also some notice issues.
Ultimately, we are very reticent, and I think most lawyers are, to get involved in a case when the statute is a few weeks away, a few days away, even a few months away. If you’ve got a case, the more technical it is, the more pre-existing problems that exist, you’re going to find a very difficult time finding representation for a lawsuit if you wait until the last minute.
Usually, if we’re talking with an individual about a case that happened a couple of years ago, we always have some red flags:
What took you so long to get a lawyer’s advice?
Why wasn’t it of interest to pursue this sooner?
What conversations have you had already that are undocumented with the insurance company?
What evidence do they have, potentially, that might be hindering the ability to get the case settled?
Also, if it’s happened in a different state, different statutes of limitation may apply. There are also various health insurance timeframes and deadlines that have to be used in the event your attempting to mitigate your damages. Most of those are at least within a year from the date of service, and when we’re trying to get a case resolved, all of the different collateral sources of benefits available to the injured person have to be looked at in terms of, “Did you do everything you could do, as the injured party, to help your situation and getting the case resolved”?
Even though you’re entitled to compensation, if it can be proven from the negligent party’s carrier or from the negligent party themselves, it’s important to have everything documented.
What Happens if the Statute of Limitations Expires?
Looking at the statute of limitations, all that is is a state-imposed deadline by the legislature with regard to when a case must be settled or a suit must be filed. And what happens in that scenario, if you have not settled your case by that three-year deadline—if we’re talking about just a typical car-wreck case— you will lose your claim and any ability that you may have had to get some money to pay bills, compensate you for lost time, any of the injuries that you claim.
Children and the Statute of Limitations
Children’s claims have a little bit of a loophole, a little bit of a luxury. They are extended past that threeyear period until the third anniversary of majority.
Essentially, if you are 16 years old when you have a car wreck, the law will allow you to wait until you’re 18 years old, plus three years to do something with that case, and that will allow you to fully assess any injury you have as an adult in the eyes of the law.
However, during that same period of time, if your parents were responsible for the medical bills that attached to your case, they must file and resolve those medical bills with the insurance carrier for the atfault party before that timeframe elapses because they, unlike you, will not have that extension. So you’re going to have to document timeframe for them in order to be able to get their money back to them for any medical bills.
Don’t Wait to File a Claim
Don’t wait until the last minute because here’s what’s going to happen: You’re going to be calling lawyer after lawyer hoping that somebody’s free to drop everything for you and get involved in a case, where all of a sudden, their licenses may be at risk for failing to identify the appropriate party to sue because you’ve got to have appropriate service in order to effectively pursue a lawsuit and name the appropriate parties involved. That’s going to require some research.
Ultimately, if you can’t find a lawyer—if you’ve waited too long—then you’re going to be forced to settle your case for, probably, an amount that is not representative of the real value of your case.
Let’s just say you want to wait until you’re finished treating with the doctor, but this has been going on for a couple of years. You are getting in dangerous water with finding some representation.
If you’re in that boat, and you need some help, sooner rather than later is the best advice: to get a lawyer to look at the file, help you figure out if you need a lawyer and ultimately retain representation.
If the case is that old and you’re still treating, it sounds like you’ve got a lot going on and need some help. We’re here to do that for you. I’m Clair Campbell. Take care and be safe.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer Today
If you have been injured in an accident in North or South Carolina, the experienced personal injury lawyers at Campbell & Associates are here to help. We can ensure that your case is handled properly right from the start in order for you to recover full and fair compensation. Call 704-333-0885 or schedule a free consultation today.