How can an Attorney Protect My Spinal Cord Injury Claim?
Have you suffered a spinal cord injury that was caused by someone else's negligence? If so, you might be entitled to compensation for your injuries under North Carolina law. After your spinal cord injury took place, you might have wondered what you should do to make a claim for damages. Perhaps you are concerned that your time to file a spinal cord injury lawsuit will run out, but you do not know the next step to take.Learn How Our Charlotte Law Firm Can Protect Your Claim
At Arnold & Smith, PLLC, our lawyers can help answer all of your questions regarding filing a personal injury lawsuit. We can also advise you as to how we can help you protect your rights in your spinal cord injury lawsuit. Additionally, we will help you make sure that you file your claim before the statute of limitations runs out and you lose your ability to file the lawsuit. We offer our clients a free case evaluation for personal injury matters. Contact our law firm today to schedule your initial consultation.Filing Your Lawsuit Before the Statute of Limitations Runs Out
Under North Carolina law, you must file your lawsuit within the proscribed statute of limitations. Most personal injury lawsuits must be filed within three years of the injury. Spinal cord injuries constitute injuries to the person and must be filed within three years of the accident.
When does the clock start ticking for North Carolina's statute of limitations? The clock starts ticking the day that the bodily harm becomes apparent or reasonably ought to have become apparent to the claimant, whichever event occurs first. After most personal injury accidents, it is not too difficult to ascertain the personal injury or the source of that injury. The three-year statute of limitations "clock" begins on the date of the accident that caused the personal injury.
For example, if a car accident caused your spinal cord injury, the statute of limitations will begin ticking on the date of the car accident. Other spinal cord injuries are not as clear cut. For example, in a medical malpractice lawsuit, your spinal cord injury might not be immediately apparent.
It might take additional time for the plaintiff to realize that the surgery caused or exacerbated his or her spinal cord injuries. When that is the case, the clock will begin ticking when you learn of your spinal cord injury or when you reasonably should have learned of your injury. At Arnold & Smith, PLLC, our knowledgeable attorneys can help you decide when the statute of limitations began and how much time you have left to file your claim.What Happens if You Miss the Filing Deadline?
In the aftermath of a spinal cord injury, it can be difficult to focus on filing a personal injury lawsuit. When you are focusing on healing and making it forward on a day-to-day basis, you may not be able to focus on a lawsuit. What happens if more than three years have passed since the underlying personal injury accident?
Should you file a personal injury lawsuit after the three-year statute of limitations has expired, the defendant will likely file a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. Unfortunately, unless a rare exception applies to your case, you will not have extra time. The North Carolina court will dismiss your case and you will lose the right to file a personal injury lawsuit for damages, no matter how significant your spinal cord injury may be. However, North Carolina law does recognize the following exceptions for statute of limitations:
- The injured person was legally disabled at the time of the personal injury accident. The plaintiff must be a minor under the age of 18 and must be declared incompetent or insane under North Carolina law. The three-year statute of limitations will not run until the legal disability has been lifted, meaning the plaintiff turns 18 or becomes deemed competent or sane.
- After the accident but before the lawsuit is filed, the defendant departs the state of North Carolina, or remains continuously absent from the state for one year or more. If this happens, the time that the defendant is absent from North Carolina will not count toward the statute of limitations.
As discussed above, the statute of limitations is extremely important. Contact our law firm today to schedule your free case evaluation and learn how we can help you determine your options related to your potential personal injury lawsuit.