Statute of Limitations on Premises Liability Lawsuits in North Carolina
The law institutes a time limit on your right to file a lawsuit in North Carolina’s civil courts. Missing a deadline means your case is dismissed unless your situation falls under certain limited exceptions to the rule. There is a three-year statute of limitations to file a lawsuit for injuries suffered due to someone else’s carelessness in taking care of their property or failing to prevent hazards.
As a personal injury lawyer, it can be frustrating to meet clients who have waited too long to speak to an attorney and pursue justice. Here, the attorneys of Dewey, Ramsay, and Hunt explain the importance of meeting with an attorney early on after an accident to avoid missing the statute of limitations deadline for premises liability. If you have questions about this law, one of our experienced attorneys can help you with this important legal detail. Call (704) 377-3737 to schedule an appointment today.
What Is a Statute of Limitations?
Statutes of limitations are also known as laws of repose. They are deadlines for filing a civil lawsuit. In the case of premises liability, the three-year “clock” begins to run on the day the accident occurs.
In matters involving personal injury, measures must be taken promptly to preserve evidence. It is paramount that you give the information to your attorney in order to investigate the accident so that a lawsuit is filed before the deadline imposed by the statute of limitations.
Common Types of Premises Liability Accidents
The legal concept of premises liability relates to the legal duties and responsibilities of property owners or of anyone exercising control over a property. Generally, property owners and those in control are legally obligated to prevent any harm to visitors, residents, and anyone with access to the area. There is also a duty to inspect the location and ensure that no one is in danger. The most common types of premises liability include:
- Slip and fall
- Toxic torts
- Creating or failing to protect against natural conditions
- Ice and snow accidents
Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations for Premises Liability Accidents in North Carolina
In specific rare situations, the courts will allow a lawsuit after the time limitation passes. The law creates these time limitations in order to preserve evidence. The law also creates exceptions to this rule in meritorious situations when the person couldn’t have learned of the injuries within the statutory period of three years.
North Carolina statutes provide specific exceptions designed to protect certain classes or circumstances when a person, such as a child, doesn’t know what caused the injury. The most common exceptions are spelled out under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1-17, providing extended time for lawsuits:
- When a child is injured, the time does not begin to run for an injury until the child reaches 18 years of age.
- When someone is mentally impaired, the statute of limitations is extended.
There are some additional exceptions in cases of premises liability where the injuries are not easily discoverable, and it takes time for the symptoms of the injury to arise.
What is North Carolina’s Discovery Rule for Toxic Torts?
Determining the actual date when the statute of limitations begins to run can be difficult to establish in some types of premises liability cases. If a person suffers a “hidden” or unknown injury, the rule for measuring the statute of limitations is different from most cases. This is common in cases when toxins or other chemicals contaminate the environment through the air, soil, or groundwater.
Under the discovery rule, the clock begins to run when the person learns that he or she is injured or at the time when a person using “reasonable diligence” should have discovered the injury. The discovery rule is commonly applied in cases involving exposure to toxic substances:
- Toxic fertilizers
- Hazardous waste
- Toxic mold
In cases of premises liability, the entities that own or control a property where the exposure occurs can be held legally responsible. In such cases, there are times when an injured victim does not manifest symptoms for years, or even decades, after the initial exposure occurred.
Gathering evidence of injuries that began many years before the symptoms begin can be a difficult task. Some of these cases depend on scientific and medical records. In some instances, the lawsuit can be brought upon scientific discoveries regarding the toxic materials in construction or household products.
North Carolina Premises Liability + Toxic Torts Lawyer Offering Free Consultations
You should contact an attorney immediately if you’re suffering from an injury that falls under the category of a “toxic tort” because the statute of limitations can complicate your ability to pursue your legal rights. North Carolina’s discovery rule specifies that the time begins to run when someone learns or could learn of an injury. Time is a vital element in your ability to seek justice as well as compensation for your injuries. Call (704) 377-3737 to speak to the attorneys of Dewey, Ramsay, and Hunt today.