North Carolina Personal Injury Law

Statutes of Limitations: The amount of time you have to sue whoever caused your injury or damage.

  • Personal Injury – 3 years
  • Damage to Personal Property – 3 years
  • Medical malpractice – 3 years from the date of the last act resulting in the injury. In no event may a suit be filed more than 4 years aftersthe last act resulting in the injury.
  • Legal malpractice – 3 years after the date of the last act causing injury but no more than 10 years after the act.
  • Other professional malpractice – 3 years after the date of the last act that caused the injury. In no event more than 10 years after the last act that caused the injury.

Where to Sue:

  • Personal injury claims under $5,000 – North Carolina Magistrate’s Court
  • Personal injury claims over $5,000 – $10,000 – North Carolina District Court
  • Personal injury claims over $10,000 – North Carolina Superior Court
How to Sue:

Small Claims Court:

  • Forms: File a Complaint and Magistrate Summons at a North Carolina Magistrate’s Court.
  • Where to file: Where the defendant resides.
  • How to notify the defendant (service): Certified or registered mail return receipt requested.Request that a sheriff or disinterested adult serve the defendant personally.
  • Proving the defendant was notified: If the defendant was served by mail, the plaintiff should file the registered or certified mail card with the clerk of the Magistrate’s Court.It the defendant is personally served by a sheriff or a disinterested adult over 21 years old, he should fill out a Notice of Assignment/ Service form and return it to the Magistrate Court Clerk.
  • Attorneys: Attorney representation at the trial is permitted in North Carolina Magistrate’s Court.
  • Appealing a small claim: Either side may appeal the decision of a Magistrate Court to the North Carolina District Court within 10 days.

North Carolina District Court:

When filing your case, seek advice from a North Carolina personal injury attorney. Personal injuury suits can be complex. Errors in filing and prosecuting your case can mean the dismissal of your case or, in some situations, complete loss of your claim or court fines.

  • Forms: North Carolina Civil Summons (Form AOC-CV-100.
  • How to File: File a Complaint and a North Carolina Civil Summons with the North Carolina District Court Clerkin the district where you intend to sue, and pay the filing fee.The clerk will authenticate (stamp) the summons.
  • How to Notify the Defendant: A sheriff or disinterested adult, age 21 or older, must give the stamped civilsummons and complaint to the defendant personally, sign the summons after service, and file a copy withthe clerk of the North Carolina District Court in the appropriate jurisdiction. Alternatively, the forms may be mailed to the defendant by certified or registered mail.

What to Do if You Are Being Sued:

Time to respond to a Summons in North Carolina: 30 days
  • Promptly obtain the advice of an experienced lawyer.
  • Your insurance company should be notified if the incident for which you are being sued is connected with an incident that occurred at your home or business. If insurance covers your claim, your insurance company may provide an attorney for you.

What to Do if a Judgment Was Entered Against You:

In North Carolina, if you do not reply to a summons and complaint within 30 days, a default judgment may be entered against you. A default judgment means that the plaintiff has won the case and you must pay the damages the plaintiff requested.

  • Time to Set Aside a Judgment in North Carolina:
    • A North Carolina District Court can set aside a judgment for mistake, excusable neglect, surprise, or newly discovered evidence within one year after the judgment has been entered
    • A North Carolina District Court can set aside a void judgment within a reasonable time
  • It is critical that you consult a lawyer immediately if a default judgment has been entered against you.

Ways to Collect Your Judgment:

  • If you succeed in your North Carolina law suit, collect your judgment by serving a demand letter on the defendant. If the defendant does not pay the judgment, the court may order the sheriff to place a lien on the debtor’s real and personal property, or garnish the defendant’s wages or bank accounts.
  • Get an advice from an experienced North Carolina debt collection attorney
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