If you are injured in a wreck in Hickory, NC, that did not result in death, the statute of limitations is generally three (3) years from the date of the accident.
Nothing makes lawyers more nervous than correctly determining the statute of limitations that apply to any case. Car accidents typically involve the negligence of one or more drivers that contribute to the collision and the resulting injuries to the occupants of other vehicles and pedestrians. For ordinary negligence claims, North Carolina applies a three (3) year statute of limitation.
The statute of limitation applying to your case will always depend on the facts and circumstances of your wreck. For instance, a crash and the resulting injuries could result from a vehicle defect. The vehicle manufacturer can be responsible under the standards that apply to product liability claims. In product liability cases, two different statutes of limitations must be considered. On the one hand, there is the three (3) year statute of limitation for negligence. On the other hand, you could have a scenario in which the breach of contract or breach of warranty occurs outside the three (3) year window, and such claims must be brought within 12 years from when its original owner first purchased the vehicle. This is known as a Statute of Repose.
Minors, children under the age of eighteen (18) also have a special status under the law regarding statutes of limitation. Technically, the statute of limitation does not begin to run against a minor until they obtain the age of majority. The claim is preserved until the minor child reaches the age of eighteen, and only then does the three (3) year statute of limitation begins to run. In theory, the minor could bring an ordinary negligence claim up until their twenty-first (21st) birthday. However, bills for the minor child’s care occurring after a wreck are the parent’s responsibility. The statute of limitation for the medical expenses runs against the parents in a typical fashion. The three (3) year statute of limitation applies to the parents’ claim for medical expenses.
Insurance companies will often ask for something called a minor settlement hearing when a child is injured. When this happens, the judge will look at the terms of the settlement, the nature of the injuries to the minor child and decide whether settlement appears to be in the minor child’s best interests. If the judge approves the minor settlement, then the statute of limitations can no longer be used by the minor child to bring their claim after reaching the age of eighteen. A minor settlement hearing ensures that the insurance company cannot be sued later on down the road by the minor child if everyone decides they would rather settle the claim closer in time to the child’s recovery from their injuries and assuming that the judge approves the settlement.
When a death occurs due to a Hickory, NC accident, then the statute of limitations is shortened to two (2) years from the date of death. However, the facts and circumstances of every accident are different, and this two (2) year statute of limitation can also be affected by the timing of the death in relation to the accident. For instance, you could have an individual severely injured in a Hickory, NC accident, but they survive on life support for years before ultimately succumbing to their injuries. An experienced car accident lawyer would need to carefully consider which statute of limitations will apply to this unique situation to avoid being barred from bringing a claim on behalf of your loved one and the surviving family members.
When they speak with you, any lawyer should first determine which statute of limitations applies to your case. By knowing the time constraints on your case, you can make informed decisions within the time allowed by law and preserve all of your claims.