How Long Do I Have to File a Bicycle Accident Lawsuit in North Carolina?

Charlotte and the surrounding area have become more bicycle-friendly recently. The city has tried to implement more bicycle lanes and routes that utilize roadways and green waste. Even with these positive changes, some North Carolina residents become seriously injured or experience fatal injuries due to bicycle accidents with motor vehicles. Even when cyclists follow all the safety rules and remain vigilant, they often end up with extensive injuries caused by a negligent driver.

A bicycle accident can cause life-altering, catastrophic injuries. When a cyclist is injured in an accident caused by a negligent or reckless motorist who is not using reasonable care, they have a right to hold that motorist accountable in civil court. The injured cyclist can obtain financial compensation for their medical expenses, lost income, property damage, and pain and suffering. The thought of filing a lawsuit after being injured can seem overwhelming. However, personal injury victims, including bicycle accident victims, only have a limited amount of time to file a claim, or they will lose their opportunity to do so.

North Carolina’s Statute of Limitations

A statute of limitations refers to the length of time that a person has to file a specific type of lawsuit. In personal injury cases, the statute of limitations is the period that the injured person has to bring a lawsuit against the party or parties that caused his or her injuries. When the victim does not file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations, the court will typically block any claims made after the deadline. There are a few exceptions to this general rule, but if you have been injured, it is important that you discuss your case and available options with an attorney. An attorney can help you understand how long you have to file a claim, so you do not miss your opportunity to obtain the compensation you deserve.

Typically, Plaintiffs Have Three Years to File a Lawsuit

Under North Carolina law, there is a three-year statute of limitations. Injury victims only have three years to file a lawsuit from the date of their accident. For example, suppose a driver was texting and driving and swerved into a cyclist, causing serious injuries, on January 1st, 2022. In that case, the injured cyclist would have until January 1st, 2025, to file a personal injury lawsuit.

When it comes to bicycle accident cases, there is usually an obvious and recognizable cause for injuries. For example, suppose you have been involved in a collision with a driver, a pedestrian, or another cyclist. In that case, you know that your injuries occurred on the date of the accident. Even if your symptoms develop later, you will generally have three years from the accident date to file a claim. Some cases are more complex and fall under the rule of discovery exception.

In these cases, the injury victim can bring a lawsuit within three years of the dates that they discovered the injury or should have reasonably discovered the injury. When this exception applies, victims have up to 10 years after the incident that caused their injury to file a claim. Most bicycle accident cases will not fall into this exception because the injuries occurred on the date that the bicycle accident took place.

The Benefit of Talking to an Attorney Sooner Rather Than Later

Three years from now may seem like a long time, especially after you have been through a devastating bicycle accident. However, time will go by faster than you think. After you have been seriously injured, the last thing you may want to do is start a complicated lawsuit. It is important to remember that evidence becomes more difficult to gather the longer you wait after an accident.

Witnesses may begin forgetting what happened, evidence may be destroyed, and it will be harder to prove your case. After you get home from the hospital, we recommend reaching out to an attorney. Your attorney can begin preserving evidence and negotiating with the insurance company. You will not be responsible for managing your case. Your attorney will be able to handle your case from start to finish so you can focus on your recovery.

Discuss Your Case With an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

If you have been involved in a bicycle accident in Charlotte or any other county in North Carolina, contact the experienced attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, to schedule your free case evaluation.

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