Best Personal Injury Lawyers Charlotte, NC (2024) – Forbes Advisor – Forbes

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North Carolina has harsh restrictions on personal injury cases, making it challenging to receive a fair recovery. Fortunately, talented personal injury lawyers can help you through these obstacles. Here are the laws that may affect your claim.

Statute of Limitations in Personal Injury

A statute of limitations is a time limit on filing a lawsuit. Do not confuse this with filing an insurance claim. Most insurance companies want you to file a claim within days of the accident, so never delay that step.

Claims involving bodily injury must be filed within three years of the accident. For example, if you slipped down an escalator and broke your leg on June 1, 2022, you have until June 1, 2025, to file a lawsuit.

However, if you seek a personal injury lawyer to file a wrongful death claim after losing a loved one to someone else’s negligence, you have two years from the date of death.

The statute of limitations is more complex with medical malpractice claims.

  • You usually have three years from the date of the treatment or procedure that amounted to malpractice.
  • But if the injury is not discovered for two or more years, you have one year to file suit from the date you discovered the condition.
  • However, you cannot file a lawsuit more than four years after the treatment or procedure.
  • The exception to that rule is if the malpractice claims involve foreign objects left in your body. You can file the lawsuit within one year of discovering the object but no later than 10 years after the date of the treatment or procedure.

If your defendant is a state government entity, you have the same statute of limitations but extra steps with other deadlines. Before you proceed with a lawsuit, you must file a notice of claim with the Industrial Commission within three years of a personal claim or two years after a wrongful death.

Determining Fault in North Carolina

North Carolina follows the doctrine of pure contributory negligence. If the plaintiff is slightly at fault, meaning as little as 1%, it bars recovery. So, you can’t receive damages from a defendant even if they are 99% at fault.

The defendant has the burden of proof when showing that the plaintiff was at least one percent at fault. This burden is low, so if you were speeding, walking on a damaged sidewalk while looking at your phone or generally distracted and unable to look out for your safety, a defendant could effectively kill your claim. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much to show you had some fault in your injuries.

However, you are not entirely out of options, even if you’re not the perfect plaintiff. Exceptions to contributory negligence include:

  • Children, usually below the age of seven
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Defendant had a last clear chance to avoid an accident, e.g., swerve from the jaywalking pedestrian
  • Willful and wanton conduct, which arises into willful negligence and extreme conduct

Dog Bite Liability

Many states may protect a dog owner if the dog has no previous record of aggression. North Carolina applies strict liability to dog bites, even if the dog never bit anyone before. So, dog owners are liable for any damages arising from a dog bite, regardless of the dog’s past behavior.

Limits on Personal Injury Recovery

North Carolina limits personal injury recovery for medical malpractice and punitive damages. There are no limits on economic damages, which include medical bills, lost wages and other documentable expenses arising from an injury.

The limit in medical malpractice applies to non-economic damages, also called pain and suffering. These damages cap at $500,000, no matter the extent of your injury.

Punitive damages cannot exceed three times the economic damage amount or $250,000, whichever is greater. This limit is unlikely to apply to your case. Punitive damages are rare in personal injury cases unless there is some obscenely indifferent conduct involved.

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