North Carolina Personal Injury Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations for personal injury & accidents in North Carolina is three (3) years (Ref: N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1-52). 


What this means is that you (or your attorney) must file a lawsuit against a defendant within three years of the date of your accident. If you do not file a lawsuit within three years, generally you forfeit any potential claim against the defendant as a matter of law - meaning there will be no opportunity for a settlement, arbitration or trial. 


Disclaimer: Although the information presented on this page is generally true there are some exceptions to this information, and the North Carolina Statute of Limitations (and the exceptions) may change over time. If you or a family member was involved in an accident and considering seeking compensation for your injuries it is crucial that you speak to an North Carolina personal injury lawyer to discuss your claim and potential recovery.

Variations on Time Limits for Filing a Lawsuit in North Carolina

There are some variations & exceptions to the 3 years statute of limitations on personal injury cases in North Carolina. Because of this, it is critical you discuss your matter with a lawyer who is highly experienced in personal injury law. 


  • If the injured person is considered to be under a legal disability at the time of the underlying accident -- meaning he or she is a minor under the age of 18, or is considered "insane" or "incompetent" according to North Carolina law -- then the three-year "clock" for filing the personal injury lawsuit probably won't begin to run until the legal disability is "lifted", meaning the person turns 18, or is deemed sane or competent. 
  • If, at some point after the underlying accident, and before the lawsuit can be filed, the person who allegedly caused the plaintiff's injuries (the defendant) "departs from and resides out of" the state of North Carolina, or if he or she "remains continuously absent" from the state for a period of one year or more, the period of absence likely won't be counted as part of the three years.

What if You Miss the Deadline to File a Lawsuit?

If you miss the deadline to file a lawsuit and the North Carolina statute of limitations passes (barring any exceptions), the opposing party will almost surely move for case dismissal and it will likely be granted. This also means that nearly any hope of a settlement will also be forfeited because there is no leverage to potentially pursue a trial (since it would immediately be dismissed). 

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