I hear about this scenario at least once a month: Person has an automobile accident in North Carolina and is injured due to no fault of their own. They either hope it’s all going to work out for the best or they have some delusion that Uncle Bilbo or some family friend is going to handle it for them. The next thing they know their statute of limitations is about to run and they’ve done #@$ all to get their claim moving. The sad news is they might have dealt a deathblow to their injury claim.
North Carolina has a 3 year statute of limitations on negligence claims. That means you have to either have resolved your claim OR file suit within 3 years. That sounds like a long time, but it really isn’t. Three years will slip away like the snap of a finger (ask any person older than 45). Moreover, even letting 2 years go by is dangerous. You might think that you’re totally OK if you wait 2 years and 360 days and THEN hire an attorney. But you’re probably not! Most attorneys don’t like to drop everything they’re doing just to jump on your case to get it filed. It reminds me of that old poster that said, “Failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.” Even worse, this creates what’s called a malpractice trap in our business. Even if an attorney is bored/brave enough to file a last minute law suit, there is a danger that there wasn’t enough time to add all of the proper defendant entities or a particular cause of action, or maybe in the rush there was a mistake in the drafting of the complaint. Now you’ve gone from having a compromised negligence claim to a potential malpractice claim against the attorney who was kind enough to take a risk to help you. Nice work!
The moral of the story is this: If you have an injury claim, get competent, reliable representation ASAP. Don’t wait. Don’t assume it’s going to work out. Don’t rely on (insert rando family friend here). You’ll be glad you did, or you’ll be mad you didn’t. Call me at 919-929-2992.