Statute of Limitations for a Slip and Fall Case

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Slip and fall cases in North Carolina can be strict to litigate in the claimant’s position. In today’s blog post, we discuss the statute of limitations for filing a slip and fall case, as well as the liability laws for a slip and fall situation that places a heavy emphasis on which party is to blame for the accident. Keep reading to learn more about how you might pursue slip and fall litigation.

Slip and Fall Statute of Limitations

After any slip and fall on someone else's property in North Carolina, you can pursue compensation for your damages, especially if it's fairly clear that the property owner's negligence led to the accident. Whether you decide to file an insurance claim or take the matter to court in a personal injury lawsuit, it is important to be aware of the statute of limitations for filing a slip and fall lawsuit. A statute of limitations is a law that establishes a time limit on your right to have a lawsuit heard in the state's civil court system. The statute of limitations is extremely important because if you file your slip and fall lawsuit after the deadline has passed, the court will almost certainly dismiss your case.

The statute of limitations that applies to slip and fall lawsuits in North Carolina is the same one that applies to most personal injury cases. Specifically, North Carolina law upholds that a civil lawsuit for any injury to the person must be filed within 3 years. That 3-year deadline covers a broad range of potential lawsuits, including a claim for injury after a slip and fall on someone else's property, as well as a property damage lawsuit stemming from a slip and fall (e.g. if you were uninjured, but you broke an expensive watch when you fell, and you want the property owner to compensate for it).Keep in mind that the 3-year clock starts running on the date of the slip and fall accident, and there’s no “pause” in the countdown for weekends or holidays.

Whether the slip and fall is an injury lawsuit or one based on property damage, the case will almost certainly hinge on whether the property owner’s negligence was the cause of your accident, otherwise known as proving fault. Even if you are confident that your injury claim will settle, you want to leave yourself plenty of time to file a slip and fall lawsuit.

Legal Liability: “Contributory Negligence”

If you’ve been injured after a slip and fall accident and you're thinking about making a claim, the property owner might argue that you share some amount of blame for the accident. It is especially important to hire a lawyer in this case, as the amount of blame they claim you share could lead to little to no compensation for your losses at all.

Be aware that North Carolina operates under a less plaintiff-friendly "contributory negligence" rule in personal injury cases. Under "contributory negligence," if the injured person is found to bear any amount of blame for the underlying accident -- even a small fraction -- then they cannot recover any compensation at all from any other at-fault party in a personal injury trial.

To prepare for this kind of debate in court, consider the arguments that the property owner (or whoever you’re trying to hold liable for your slip and fall) might claim to pin some amount of legal liability on you:

  • you were on a part of the property where visitors aren’t usually allowed, or where visitors aren’t usually expected to be;
  • you were wearing footwear that was inappropriate (or even unsafe) for the circumstances;
  • reasonable steps were taken to protect visitors (e.g. the dangerous condition was cordoned off by cones and signage);
  • the dangerous condition should have been obvious to you;
  • you weren’t paying attention to where you were walking (e.g. you were using your phone).

If your case doesn’t make it to trial or isn’t actually filed, North Carolina’s contributory negligence rule will still be a factor. This means that even during settlement negotiations, the property owner’s insurance company or attorney knows that if your case winds up in court, you stand a significant chance of walking away with nothing if they can prove even a little bit of blame. So, it becomes that much more critical to enlist the help of an experienced lawyer to build a strong case for you showing that the property owner’s negligence was the sole cause of your slip and fall.

Contact Jetton & Meredith, PLLC for Legal Guidance

If you seek to take legal action for your slip and fall accident, whether it caused harm to yourself or your property, speak with a lawyer immediately for legal representation. North Carolina has a 3-year statute of limitations for filing a slip and fall lawsuit, and the state operates under contributory negligence laws that may make it tough to argue for compensation in your accident. Our team at Jetton & Meredith, PLLC can examine the facts of your situation and build a strong argument for your right to compensation in an accident.

Contact Jetton & Meredith, PLLC for a consultation today.