Statute of Limitations in NC | North Carolina Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury and Medical Malpractice (2023)

Statute of Limitations in NC | North Carolina Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury and Medical Malpractice (1)

NOTE:Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all statutes of limitations set to expire between March 16 and July 31, 2020, were extended to July 31 by order of the state Supreme Court. In addition, medical providers acting in good faith in response to the pandemic will not be held liable for damages caused by their actions.

Does North Carolina Have a Statute of Limitations for Filing a Civil Suit?

Yes. State law outlines the time periods during which a civil claim may be filed based on the type of case. Some of these include:

  • Personal Injury:3 years
  • Fraud:3 years
  • Contract Disputes:3 years
  • Medical Malpractice:3 years
  • Defective Products:3 years
  • Wrongful Death:2 years

What Is the Statute of Limitations in NC for Criminal Offenses?

The statute of limitations in NC for most misdemeanors is two years. For misdemeanors involving child abuse committed after Dec. 1, 2019, the limit is ten years, while for “malicious misdemeanors” and felonies, there is no statute of limitations.

Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury in North Carolina

In North Carolina, the statute of limitations for personal injury and negligence claims is three years from the date the injury or act of negligence occurred. The discovery rule also applies to the North Carolina statute of limitations for personal injury cases: If an injury is not immediately apparent, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until it is or should have been discovered.

“Within three years an action-

“(5) For criminal conversation, or for any other injury to the person or rights of another, not arising on contract and not hereafter enumerated.” (N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 1-52)

Statute of Repose

“(16) Unless otherwise provided by statute, forpersonal injuryor physical damage to claimant’s property, the cause of action, except in causes of actions referred to in G.S. 1-15(c), shall not accrue until bodily harm to the claimant or physical damage to his property becomes apparent or ought reasonably to have become apparent to the claimant, whichever event first occurs. Except as provided in G.S. 130A-26.3, no cause of action shall accrue more than 10 years from the last act or omission of the defendant giving rise to the cause of action.” (N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 1-52)

How Long Is a Contractor Liable for Work in NC?

North Carolina has a three-year statute of limitations for breach of contract, which is likely to be the basis for a claim against a contractor. However, the discovery rule may apply, delaying the start of this three-year period.

North Carolina Statute of Repose for Construction Defects

Claims based on construction defects are subject to a statute of repose that allows plaintiffs six years from when the construction was completed to file a legal claim.

No action to recover damages base upon or arising out of the defective or unsafe conditions of an improvement to real property shall be brought more than six years from the later of the specific last act or omission of the defendant giving rise to the cause of action or substantial completion of the improvement.” (N.C. Gen. Stat. §1-50(a)(5)(a))

(Video) Statute of Limitations for a Personal Injury Claim in North Carolina

Toxic Tort

3 Years

Toxic tort claims are governed by the same statute as personal injury cases.

Wrongful Death

2 Years

“Within two years-

“(4) Actions for damages on account of thedeathof a person caused by the wrongful act, neglect or fault of another under G.S. 28A-18-2; the cause of action shall not accrue until the date of death. Provided that, whenever the decedent would have been barred, had he lived, from bringing an action for bodily harm because of the provisions of G.S. 1-15(c) or 1-52(16), no action for his death may be brought.” (N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 1-53)

What Is the Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations in North Carolina?

In North Carolina, the medicalmalpracticestatute of limitations is three years from the date the action occurred unless the injury or fraud is not easily noticed, in which case the statute of limitations begins the date the malpractice is discovered or reasonably could be discovered.

“(c) Except where otherwise provided by statute, a cause of action for malpractice arising out of the performance of or failure to perform professional services shall be deemed to accrue at the time of the occurrence of the last act of the defendant giving rise to the cause of action: Provided that whenever there is bodily injury to the person, economic or monetary loss, or a defect in or damage to property which originates under circumstances making the injury, loss, defect or damage not readily apparent to the claimant at the time of its origin, and the injury, loss, defect or damage is discovered or should reasonably be discovered by the claimant two or more years after the occurrence of the last act of the defendant giving rise to the cause of action, suit must be commenced within one year from the date discovery is made: Provided nothing herein shall be construed to reduce the statute of limitation in any such case below three years. Provided further, that in no event shall an action be commenced more than four years from the last act of the defendant giving rise to the cause of action.” (N.C.G.S.A. § 1-15(c))

Malpractice (Other Professions)

3 Years

Product Liability

3 Years

Product defect cases are governed by the same statute of limitations as personal injury claims.

Discovery Rule

(Video) Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Injury

“The limitation for actions based on fraud or on negligence is three years. N.C.Gen.Stat. § 1-52 (1969). With respect to claims based on negligence, the cause of action accrues when the wrong is committed. Shearin v. Lloyd, 246 N.C. 363, 98 S.E.2d 508 (1958).3 In contrast, a cause of action based on fraud, including forgery, does not accrue until discovery. N.C.Gen.Stat. § 1-52(9) (1969); Cooper v. Floyd, 9 N.C.App. 645, 177 S.E.2d 442 (1970). (Ford Motor Credit Co. v. Minges, 473 F.2d 918, 922 (4th Cir. 1973))


3 Years

“For relief on the ground of fraud or mistake; the cause of action shall not be deemed to have accrued until the discovery by the aggrieved party of the facts constituting the fraud or mistake.” (N.C. Gen. Stat. §1-52(9))

Municipal Liability/Sovereign Immunity

The state of North Carolina and its municipalities are not immune to legal claims. Personal injury claims must be filed with the North Carolina Industrial Commission within three years; wrongful death claims must be filed within two years.

Comparative Negligence

North Carolina follows the doctrine of contributory negligence rather thancomparative negligence: If a plaintiff is found to be at all to blame for their own injuries, they cannot receive compensation.

Charitable Immunity

Charitable organizations are not immune to legal claims.

Legal Disabilities

Plaintiffs who are minors (younger than 18), incompetents or insane are granted the normal statute of limitations upon removal of this legaldisability. In cases involving minors, the maximum extension of the statute of limitations is to their 21st birthday except in malpractice cases, for which it is their 19th birthday.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages may be awarded at the discretion of jury in cases where the defendant is liable for compensatory damages and the aggravating factor of fraud, malice or willful, wanton conduct is present. Punitive damages are capped at three times the compensatory damages or $250,000.

No-Fault Insurance

North Carolina is not a no-fault state.

Consumer Fraud Complaint

In North Carolina, the Department of Justice handles consumer fraud complaints. You canfile complaintsonline or by mail or call (919) 716-6400 or 1-877-5-NO-SCAM (toll-free in North Carolina) for assistance.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Sue for Emotional Distress in North Carolina?

North Carolina recognizes torts for both negligent and intentional emotional distress. An individual can be held accountable for the infliction of emotional distress if the plaintiff can prove that the defendant acted in a way that the court deems outrageous and extreme.

What Is the Statute of Limitations in North Carolina for Collecting Debt?

The statute of limitations in NC for debt collection is three years.

What Crimes Are Exempt From the Statute of Limitations?

In North Carolina, felonies have no statute of limitations. These include serious crimes like murder, sex offenses involving minors, and violent crimes like arson and kidnapping. North Carolina also does not have a statute of limitations for crimes classified as “malicious” misdemeanors.

(Video) Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Case in North Carolina

How Is Pain and Suffering Calculated in NC?

Pain and suffering is calculated by first determining the severity of your injuries, your treatment, the effect of your injuries on your life, and mental distress. This factor is assigned a value from one to five. Then, that number is multiplied by the amount of your medical bills.

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Auto Accidents in North Carolina?

North Carolina has a three-year statute of limitations for filing a car accident lawsuit. The statute of limitations begins on the date the crash occurred.

How Long Does an Insurance Company Have to Settle a Claim in North Carolina?

North Carolina law dictates that a claim should be paid or denied or additional information should be requested within 30 days of the claim’s receipt. If the insurer asks for additional information, they have 30 days from the date they receive the information to either pay or deny the claim.

(Video) North Carolina Personal Injury Statute of Limitations


What is the statute of limitation for medical malpractice in North Carolina? ›

In most cases, North Carolina law requires that any medical malpractice lawsuit be brought within three years of the date of injury. There are circumstances where this can be extended. The statute of limitations can be extended to four years if your injury was something you could not have discovered right away.

What is the statute of limitations in NC personal injury? ›

In North Carolina, the majority of personal injury claims must be brought within three years of the date the injury occurred. Three years may seem like a long time, but you don't want to lose the opportunity to seek compensation for injuries and losses you suffer due to another's negligence.

How long do you have to sue for malpractice in NC? ›

In general, a person in North Carolina has up to three (3) years from the date of the medical treatment that caused injury, or one year from when the injury was or should have been discovered, to file suit against a medical professional for malpractice.

Is there a statute limitations a personal injury claim? ›

Cases where a person sustained such serious injury that prevents them from making a claim. In this case, the person will have two years from the date where they are considered capable to do so. Misdiagnosis of an illness. In this case, the 2-year time limit would start as soon as the person is diagnosed correctly.

What are the 4 things that must be proven to win a medical malpractice suit? ›

The injured patient must show that the physician acted negligently in rendering care, and that such negligence resulted in injury. To do so, four legal elements must be proven: (1) a professional duty owed to the patient; (2) breach of such duty; (3) injury caused by the breach; and (4) resulting damages.

Can you sue for medical malpractice in NC? ›

If the negligence of a health care provider or health care professional causes significant damage, permanent damage, or even death, you may have a malpractice claim and may be able to sue the provider and/or the facility where you or your loved one received care.

How long after medical negligence can you sue? ›

What is the time limit for medical negligence claims? For adults who have capacity, the time limit for medical negligence claims is three years from date the negligence occurred, or the date you became aware of it. That is because symptoms or related illnesses can sometimes take time to present themselves.

Can you claim personal injury after 3 years? ›

Time limits

The most common claim in a personal injury case is negligence and the time limit for this is 3 years. This means that court proceedings must be issued within 3 years of you first being aware that you have suffered an injury.

Does North Carolina have personal injury protection? ›

Personal Injury Protection – Personal Injury Protection, otherwise known as no-fault insurance, is designed to pay medical bills in the event of an accident regardless of fault. This is a requirement in some states that have No-Fault insurance laws. North Carolina is not one of them.

Which element of malpractice is hardest to prove? ›

The second element of a medical malpractice case is the hardest to prove. The plaintiff must show in the malpractice suit that the defendant was negligent because they failed to provide the same level of care that another doctor would have provided in a similar situation.

What are the four elements required for a claim of malpractice? ›

In order to successfully pursue a medical malpractice suit, the patient must prove the four (4) elements of medical negligence. The four (4) elements are (1) duty; (2) breach; (3) injury; and (4) proximate causation.

What is the most common stated cause for the filing of a malpractice lawsuit? ›

Multiple studies have concluded that misdiagnosis is the most common cause of malpractice claims. Misdiagnosis includes failure to diagnose a medical problem that exists or making a diagnosis that is incorrect.

What is the limitation period for tort law claims for personal injury? ›

Most of the various limitations are contained in the Limitation Act 1980. Claims in contract usually have to be brought within 6 years and claims in tort (the law relating to personal injury and medical negligence) usually have to brought within 3 years.

Is there a way around statute of limitations? ›

If you fall victim to the statute of limitations for your particular lawsuit, there is no way a court can help you right your wrong.

What damages can you claim for personal injury? ›

In most personal injury cases, the claim for special damages covers prescription charges, travel to appointments and some loss of wages. If it can be proved that your injury left you unable to work, and you lost earnings as a result, the special damages you will get include lost earnings.

What are five 5 of the most common errors that lead to medical malpractice claims? ›

5 Common Medical Errors That Lead To Medical Malpractice Claims
  • Misdiagnosis And Failure To Diagnose. According to CBS News, approximately 12 million people who receive outpatient care are victims of some form a misdiagnosis each year. ...
  • Prescription Errors. ...
  • Surgical Errors. ...
  • Anesthesia Errors. ...
  • Childbirth Errors.

What are the best defenses against a malpractice suit? ›

Common Defenses Against a Medical Malpractice Claim
  • Show Avoidable Consequences. ...
  • Argue the Substantial Minority Principle. ...
  • Cite Good Samaritan Laws. ...
  • Challenge the Evidence. ...
  • Demonstrate Standard of Care. ...
  • Challenge the Causal Relationship. ...
  • Assumed Risk.
21 Apr 2021

Why are malpractice cases so hard to win? ›

It is difficult—and therefore expensive—to demonstrate to a jury that a healthcare provider acted unreasonably. It is often at least as difficult—and therefore at least as expensive—to demonstrate that the negligence, rather than the underlying illness or injury, is what harmed the patient.

What is considered medical malpractice in NC? ›

The Basics of Medical Malpractice Claims

The breach of the standard of care by a medical provider; That the injuries suffered were "proximately caused" by the breach; and, The nature and amount of the resulting damages.

How much are most medical malpractice settlements? ›

Average award of medical malpractice lawsuits

The average medical malpractice settlement in the United States awards $242,000. Those that go to trial average around $1,000,000. Minor settlements only pay out-of-pocket expenses.

What are the 5 elements of negligence? ›

Doing so means you and your lawyer must prove the five elements of negligence: duty, breach of duty, cause, in fact, proximate cause, and harm.

On what grounds can you sue for medical negligence? ›

Some common medical malpractice and negligence claims include delayed diagnosis, misdiagnosis of cancer, surgical error, birth injuries to both the infant and mother, incorrect medication or treatment is given, referral errors, and hospital-acquired infections.

How do I prove medical negligence claim? ›

In order to succeed in a medical negligence case, a Claimant must prove the following:
  1. That the Defendant owed the Claimant a duty of care; ...
  2. There was a breach of duty; and.
  3. Causation.
17 Aug 2022

How far back can you claim a work injury? ›

Accident at work claim time limit: For accidents at work, you will have three years from the date of your workplace accident to claim. Slip, trip or fall accident: Injuries that occur from a slip, trip or fall have a three-year time limit from the date of accident.

How many years after can you claim compensation? ›

As referenced above, you have a legal window of two years to file a claim for financial recovery. While this might seem like a long time, you should not wait to contact a trusted legal professional. Rather, contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible.

How many personal injury claims go to court? ›

What percentage of personal injury claims go to court? On average, it's estimated that the vast majority of cases are settled before a trial can begin. In fact, it could be as low as 5% of cases that reach court. And of those, around 90% tend to go in favour of the claimant.

Can you sue for pain and suffering in North Carolina? ›

North Carolina does not place a limit on pain and suffering damages, except for cases of medical malpractice. A 2011 law put a $500,000 cap on non-economic damages when suing a doctor, hospital, or medical center.

Can you sue someone for emotional damage in NC? ›

In North Carolina, a person is liable for the intentional infliction of emotional distress when that person (1) engages in extreme and outrageous conduct; (2) the conduct was intended to cause severe emotional distress to another person; and (3) the conduct does in fact cause severe emotional distress to another person ...

Are personal injury settlements taxable in North Carolina? ›

As a rule of thumb, any money that you receive from your personal injury settlement in North Carolina is not taxable, though some portions of your settlement or award may be subject to taxes.

What percentage of malpractice suits are successful? ›

The Chances of Winning a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

Finally, juries returned verdicts favoring medical providers in approximately 50% of cases featuring strong evidence of negligence. In short, the legally and factually complex nature of a medical malpractice claim means the odds favor medical providers at trial.

What kinds of mistakes can amount to medical malpractice? ›

Misreading or ignoring laboratory results, Premature discharge from a hospital, Prescribing improper medication or dosage, or. Failing to account for a patient's health history.

What conditions must all be present for a malpractice suit to be successful? ›

The injuries or losses that were suffered should have been reasonably foreseeable to prove that the doctor is guilty of malpractice. Proof that the doctor's medical treatment and accompanying behaviour caused the injuries or loss. Any consequences suffered need to be actual, demonstrable damages.

What is the difference between negligence and malpractice? ›

Medical malpractice is when a healthcare professional is aware of the possible consequences before making a mistake that led to an injury. Medical negligence is when a healthcare professional makes an honest mistake that leads to an injury.

What are the 4 D's of medical negligence? ›

To prove it, you need the four Ds of medical negligence. These four are Duty of care, Dereliction of duty, Direct causation, and Damages. Learning whether you have grounds to prove these for a medical malpractice claim in Virginia requires the help of an attorney with experience in these cases.

Which elements must be present to prove malpractice? ›

What Are the Four Elements of Medical Malpractice?
  • Duty: The duty of care owed to patients.
  • Dereliction: Or breach of this duty of care.
  • Direct cause: Establishing that the breach caused injury to a patient.
  • Damages: The economic and noneconomic losses suffered by the patient as a result of their injury or illness.

What unethical behavior can be the basis of a malpractice lawsuit? ›

Working while impaired by alcohol or drugs. Becoming romantically involved with patients or family members of a patient. Cherry-picking patients. Breaching patient confidentiality (violating HIPAA regulations)

What are three of the most common medical malpractice claims? ›

In no particular order, the following are types of the most common medical malpractice claims: Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis. Failure to treat. Prescription drug errors.

What is the most common medical malpractice case? ›

Diagnostic errors are the leading cause of medical malpractice claims, according to claims advisor Coverys. This type of error can occur at several stages of the diagnostic process and includes mistakes such as: Failure to properly evaluate the patient. Diagnostic/lab testing errors.

What is the limitation period for medical negligence claims? ›

The time limit to make a claim is known as a limitation period and lasts three years. This time limit of three years applies in medical and clinical negligence cases. The three-year time limit applies to all types of negligence, including surgical errors, cancer misdiagnosis and vaginal mesh.

In what period of time must an action in negligence for personal injury be commenced? ›

This means that any claim must be issued with the court within three years of the date of the accident or the date of knowledge of the negligence.

What are the statute of limitations in North Carolina? ›

Most states have different limits for different kinds of crimes, but North Carolina is unique in this regard. North Carolina's criminal statute of limitations is two years for most misdemeanors, and there is no statute of limitations for felonies or crimes classified as "malicious" misdemeanors.

Can I claim for medical negligence after 20 years? ›

Even if it has been longer than three years since you suffered medical negligence, you may still be able to claim. This may even be possible after 20 years in certain cases. The first exception to the three-year rule is for someone who lacks mental capacity.

What is statute of limitations in medical terms? ›

A statute of limitations is a type of law that prescribes a specific time frame for how long someone has to file a claim on a certain matter before they are barred from doing so.

How much can you get out of pain and suffering? ›

They usually offer ½ to 1 times your economic damages (medical bills and loss of income) to compensate for your pain and suffering. For example, if your medical bills and loss of income equal $10,000, the insurance company will try to offer up to $5,000-$10,000 for your pain and suffering.

Do personal injury claims go to the High court? ›

High court personal injury claims may be pursued for a number of reasons. For example, medical negligence claims are often taken to the high court, especially when there is uncertainty over liability for death or serious injury.

What is the formula for personal injury settlements? ›

To calculate your potential settlement, sum up your medical expenses, lost earnings, and future lost income due to your injury. Then, multiply this number by a factor between 1.5 and 5 depending on the severity of your pain, suffering, inconvenience, and loss of enjoyment of life.

Can I claim medical negligence after 7 years? ›

The time limit to make a claim is known as a limitation period and lasts three years. This time limit of three years applies in medical and clinical negligence cases. The three-year time limit applies to all types of negligence, including surgical errors, cancer misdiagnosis and vaginal mesh.

Can you sue a hospital for negligence after 10 years? ›

If your claim falls under one of the special circumstances listed above then yes, it is possible to claim medical negligence after five or ten years. It may also be possible to claim if the event occurred five or more years ago, but you were not aware of your injury or that there was potential negligence.

How far back can medical negligence go? ›

What is the time limit for medical negligence claims? For adults who have capacity, the time limit for medical negligence claims is three years from date the negligence occurred, or the date you became aware of it.

What is the key exception to the 3 year limitation period from a clinical negligence claim? ›

Yes, the 3 years limitation period does not apply to children in the same way as adults. Only when a child reaches 18 years' of age does the 3 years limitation period to start. For example, if a child suffers a birth injury, the medical negligence time limit to start a claim at Court will expire on their 21st birthday.

What is classed as medical negligence? ›

Medical negligence is substandard care that's been provided by a medical professional to a patient, which has directly caused injury or caused an existing condition to get worse. There's a number of ways that medical negligence can happen such as misdiagnosis, incorrect treatment or surgical mistakes.

How long do most malpractice cases last? ›

On average, most medical malpractice cases take 2-3 years to settle. However, if a medical malpractice case does not settle and goes to trial, the lawsuit can take up to 4 years. In cases where compensation exceeds $2 million, the timeline is often 5-15 years.

What are the four conditions necessary to prove a negligence claim? ›

4 Elements Of A Negligence Claim
  • 1) Presence of a Duty. This is a key parameter for determining the respondent's fault in a personal injury claim. ...
  • 2) Breach of a Duty. ...
  • 3) Proof of Direct Causation. ...
  • 4) Nature and Extent of Injuries.

Do medical negligence claims go to court? ›

The vast majority of medical negligence cases are resolved without going to Court, even where Court proceedings have been commenced. The Court strongly encourages early settlement of cases and there are plenty of opportunities to negotiate settlement of your medical claim.


1. Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations and Discovery Rule
(O'Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble)
2. North Carolina Statute of Limitations Explained
(The Hayes Firm)
3. What is the Statute of Limitations in North Carolina?
(Kevin Jones)
4. Handle Your Own Injury Case: Statute of Limitations
(Brent Adams)
5. What Is The Statute Of Limitations For A Wrongful Death Claim? NC Attorney Kimberly Wilson
(Wilson Law, P.A.)
6. What is the statute of limitations to file a medical malpractice or negligence claim?
(Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria)
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