How Long After a Car Accident Can You Sue in North Carolina?

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A frustrated man reviews the damage after a car accident.

Car accidents can often be traumatic experiences, even if the injuries sustained were relatively minor. Whether the injuries were minor or severe, you are still left confused, stressed, and often in pain. When forced to deal with medical professionals, insurers, your employer, and worrying about how you will get around with a damaged vehicle, the process of recovering from a car accident can often feel overwhelming.

If you have been involved in a car collision in North Carolina and have sustained injuries, contact the experienced car accident attorneys at Tatum & Atkinson, ‘the Heavy Hitters’ at (800) 529-0804 or online for a free case evaluation. We can assist you with learning more about your legal options so that you may ensure that you will receive the compensation you deserve for your damages.

How Long After a Car Accident Can You Sue?

Whether or not you will need to file a lawsuit after a car accident depends on the circumstances of your case. Not all car accidents will require a lawsuit to be filed. If there have been minimal to no injuries sustained and minor property damage, it will be unnecessary to begin a lawsuit. North Carolina has contributory negligence laws that will make the facts of your particular case pertinent to whether or not you may be able to recover compensation for your damages. If you contributed to the accident, you might be barred from recovery. However, if fault can be placed on another driver, you should consider filing a lawsuit for damages, especially if you sustained severe injuries or property damage.

Insurance coverage will often not adequately cover significant injuries. After filing a car accident injury claim, it is often advisable to wait until attempts to settle are unsuccessful or have stalled before filing a lawsuit. Lawsuits cost more and can considerably lengthen the time involved to receive compensation for your claim. However, you must remember that there will be a deadline or a statute of limitations placed on filing your claim. You must begin a lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires. So, how long after a car accident can you sue? In North Carolina, personal injury victims will have three years from the date of their accident to file a lawsuit.

However, you will want to keep in mind that you should not settle until you know the full extent of your damages. Future damages related to the accident should be calculated and accounted for. Your car accident attorney can assist you with ensuring that you receive just compensation. Also, you should note that suing too soon can prevent you from claiming the entire injury. Speak with an experienced car accident attorney to learn more about your options for recourse after sustaining injuries from a car accident.

What Is the Statute of Limitations on a Car Accident?

In North Carolina, car accident victims only have a small window to file a car accident lawsuit against an insurance company or at-fault party. Under North Carolina law, a car accident victim will have three years from the date of the car collision to file a lawsuit for their damages.

Although this may seem like a significant time allowance to file, it often takes quite some time to calculate the actual value of your settlement claim, which is usually unknown until you reach maximum medical improvement after the collision. Depending on the severity of your crash, this may take months or even years to determine how significant your medical expenses may be and whether or not any impairments will be lifelong. Failure to file your lawsuit within the three-year period will bar you from receiving compensation for your claims.

North Carolina Car Accident

Regarding your North Carolina car accident, some factors may extend the timeline of receiving your settlement. These factors include:

  • Whether or not you sustained a severe injury.  Larger claims tend to take longer to settle.
  • The length it will take to recover. Often you will want to reach maximum medical improvement or fully recover before deciding on a final settlement figure.
  • Who was at fault for the accident? If it is unclear who was at fault and to what degree, or if multiple parties are involved, investigations often will take longer.

In general, receiving a settlement quickly is not always the best. In many cases, individuals who accept a settlement offer early miss out on the money they deserve. Many insurers will initially low-ball claimants with a settlement figure in hopes that they will accept it without realizing they are entitled to greater compensation. Do not fall for this scheme that many car accident injury victims have erroneously fallen for. If you settle, you cannot request compensation for your damages related to the accident should they arise later. During the settlement negotiations process, only you will be able to determine (often with the help of an attorney) whether the settlement offer being presented is adequate compensation for both your current and future expected damages related to the accident. An experienced attorney will be skilled in handling these negotiations to ensure that you receive fair compensation.

What Happens If We Are Unable to Reach A Settlement?

If an appropriate settlement figure cannot be reached through negotiations, you may have no other recourse but to file a lawsuit and take your claim to court. Your attorney will be able to review your options with you to determine the best course of action. Most car accident claims will end in a successful settlement agreed to by both parties.

Insurers will often try to avoid going to court to avoid spending the time and resources involved with a legal defense. However, if the suit does go to trial, both you and the other party will present your case in front of a judge or jury. Your attorney will present evidence to support your claim and will present a legal argument to prove how the negligent actions of the other party lead to your damages. After both sides have presented their evidence and legal argument, the judge or jury will determine fault and who will be awarded compensation and in what amount.

North Carolina Car Accident Lawyer

Obtaining an experienced North Carolina car accident lawyer is critical to the success of receiving the best possible outcome for your car accident claim. Contact Tatum & Atkinson, ‘the Heavy Hitters’, today to get a free consultation. We have over 65 collective years of experience representing car accident injury victims. Call our office at (800) 529-0804 or contact us online to learn more about your legal options.