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))

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

“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.

Is There a Statute of Limitations on DWI in North Carolina?

Yes: DWI is a misdemeanor with a two-year statute of limitations in North Carolina.

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.

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.


Statute of Limitations in NC | North Carolina Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury and Medical Malpractice? ›

  • In North Carolina, the statute of limitations for filing most personal injury lawsuits is generally three years from the date of the accident. ...
  • Generally, the three-year statute of limitations for a personal injury claim starts on the date that the injury occurs.
Mar 23, 2022

What's the statute of limitations on medical malpractice in North Carolina? ›

Under North Carolina law, you have only three years from the date the medical mistake was made to file your claim against your healthcare provider. However, you have up to two years from the date you discovered the mistake to a maximum of four years if you could not have discovered your injury right away.

What is the statute of limitations in North Carolina for personal injury? ›

Three Years is the Standard Time Limit for North Carolina Personal Injury Lawsuits. The North Carolina personal injury statute of limitations is spelled out at North Carolina General Statutes section 1-52, which says any lawsuit seeking a legal remedy for "injury to the person" must be filed within three years.

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.

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 for medical negligence after 3 years? ›

Generally, you must claim damages for medical negligence within three years from the time when you became aware of the facts necessary to institute a claim. Various exceptions apply to this general rule. So it's wise to seek legal advice even if three years had already passed since the date of injury.

Which states sue doctors the most? ›

What States Are Highest Risk for Doctors?
  • Top Ten Most Litigious States – Percentage of Physicians Sued.
  • Arizona 63%
  • Indiana 70%
  • New York 66%
  • New Mexico 70%
  • Tennessee 67%
  • Illinois 71%
  • Pennsylvania 68%
Jun 18, 2021

How long does an insurance company have to settle a claim in North Carolina? ›

State Law - Law requires claims to be paid within 30 days of receipt of the claim. If additional information is requested, the claim must be paid 30 days from receipt of the information. If requested information not received within 90 days, the insurer must deny the claim.

Can you sue for emotional distress in NC? ›

North Carolina recognizes torts for both negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

What is the statute of limitations for auto accidents in North Carolina? ›


North Carolina's statute of limitations for most personal injury claims, including those involving car accidents, is three years from the date of the accident or from the date you became aware or should have become aware that there were grounds for a lawsuit.

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.

Can you sue for medical malpractice? ›

Yes. If you have suffered an injury (whether physical or psychological) and that injury is as a result of a negligent act or omission by a doctor or GP, you can claim for medical negligence compensation.

Can I sue hospital for negligence? ›

If a doctor or hospital staff makes a medical error the hospital is still responsible and a patient can sue them. Hospital negligence occurs directly by the hospital or indirectly by its employees.

Can you claim medical 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.

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. Your lawyer may help you meet the elements necessary to prove your claim, build a successful case, and help you receive the monetary award you deserve.

Is there any way around statute of limitations? ›

In general, there's no way around the statute of limitations. You have to officially file the suit in the courts within two years of your accident, or unfortunately, there's very little that even the best personal injury lawyer can do for you.

Is there a statute of limitations on medical malpractice? ›

There are time limits to sue for medical malpractice

Generally, you must start a medical malpractice lawsuit within two years of when the malpractice occurred. This is called the limitation period.

How successful are medical negligence claims? ›

It is authoritatively shown that around 10 to 11 % of hospital admissions each year end in an 'adverse outcome' due to a medical incident.

What is classed as medical negligence? ›

Medical negligence (also known as clinical negligence) is when a healthcare professional or institute provides substandard care to a patient, which causes them to suffer avoidable harm or causes their condition to deteriorate.

What is the most common medical malpractice case? ›

What Are the Most Common Medical Malpractice Claims?
  • Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis.
  • Failure to treat.
  • Prescription drug errors.
  • Surgical or procedural errors.
  • Childbirth injuries.

Which doctors pay the most for malpractice insurance? ›

Therefore, doctors in specialties that are considered higher risk pay more for their malpractice insurance. Typically, surgeons, anesthesiologists and OB/GYN physicians are charged higher premiums.

What state has the most medical errors? ›

What state had the most reports of medical malpractice? According to NPDB data, New York had the largest amount of medical malpractice reports from 2009-2018, with 16,688 – followed by California and Florida, with 13,157 and 10,788 reports, respectively.

How long does an insurance company have to pay a medical claim? ›

"As per the regulations, the expenses about 30 days prior to hospitalisation and 60 days post-discharge are to be reimbursed by the insurer," says Goel. If your entire claim is through reimbursement mode then you may include this expenses while making the claim.

What is the average settlement for a car accident in North Carolina? ›

There is no true average car accident settlement in North Carolina. A car accident settlement will generally depend on the severity of a victim's injuries, the number of vehicles involved, and the nature of the accident.

How is pain and suffering calculated in North Carolina? ›

North Carolina law provides that there is no fixed formula for estimating a fair and reasonable amount for “pain and suffering” damages. Rather, a judge and a jury should use their common sense to evaluate the effect a collision has had on an individual person.

What are the 5 signs of emotional suffering? ›

Know the 5 signs of Emotional Suffering
  • Personality change in a way that seems different for that person.
  • Agitation or displaying anger, anxiety or moodiness.
  • Withdrawal or isolation from others.
  • Poor self-care and perhaps engaging in risky behavior.
  • Hopelessness, or feelings of being overwhelmed and worthless.
Dec 11, 2020

What elements prove negligent infliction of emotional distress? ›

To recover for the negligent infliction of emotional distress, a plaintiff must prove that:
  • The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty;
  • The defendant negligently breached that duty; and.
  • The plaintiff suffered severe emotional distress as a result of the negligence.

How do you prove mental anguish? ›

To prove a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress in California a plaintiff must prove that:
  1. The defendant's conduct was outrageous,
  2. The conduct was either reckless or intended to cause emotional distress; and.
  3. As a result of the defendant's conduct the plaintiff suffered severe emotional distress.

Can I claim for an accident after 10 years? ›

In general, you have a time limit of up to 3 years from the date of the injury to make an injury claim. The last date you can make a claim is known as the claim limitation date - after which your injury claim becomes 'statute barred'.

Is North Carolina a comparative negligence state? ›

North Carolina negligence laws follow the doctrine of contributory negligence, which bars recovery by the plaintiff if they're just partially at fault. The majority of other states follow the doctrine of comparable negligence, in which the amount of damages is reduced in proportion to the plaintiff's degree of fault.

Is North Carolina a no fault accident state? ›

North Carolina is a “fault” or tort-based state, meaning that if you were hurt in a car accident you can recover from the driver who caused the accident, or was “at fault.” (“Fault” states are discussed in comparison to “no-fault” states in which an injured party recovers from their insurance company, regardless of who ...

Can you sue a doctor in North Carolina? ›

Victims of medical malpractice in North Carolina have up to three years from the date of the medical treatment that caused the injury, or one year from which the injury was discovered, to file a lawsuit.

What is the best definition of malpractice? ›

Definition of malpractice

1 : a dereliction of professional duty or a failure to exercise an ordinary degree of professional skill or learning by one (such as a physician) rendering professional services which results in injury, loss, or damage.

What is the purpose of malpractice? ›

A specialized type of professional liability insurance, medical malpractice insurance provides coverage to physicians and other medical professionals for liability arising from disputed services that result in a patient's injury or death.

On what grounds can I sue the hospital? ›

If you're wondering whether you could have grounds to sue a hospital, you must be able to prove the following for you to have a valid medical negligence claim: The hospital owed you a duty of care. This duty of care was breached by the hospital. You were caused to suffer as a result of this breach by the hospital.

How do I claim medical negligence? ›

Steps to making a medical negligence claim
  1. Contact us. The first step to making a medical negligence claim is to get in touch with us. ...
  2. Make a complaint. ...
  3. Gather evidence to prove medical negligence in a case. ...
  4. The case is taken to court.

How does patient claim line work? ›

If you've been affected by a medical mistake, Patient Claim Line has helped thousands of people just like you. Our experienced legal team will fight on your behalf to get you answers and compensation. Our no win no fee service means there are no upfront payments and it costs you nothing to find out if you have a case.

Can you take a hospital to court? ›

Legal definitions

A medical negligence claim (sometimes known as a clinical negligence claim) occurs when a patient takes their medical practitioner or hospital (or both) to court for compensation due to an act or acts of negligence incurred during their medical care.

How do you sew a hospital? ›

The process for how you sue a hospital for medical negligence generally requires you to:
  1. Collect evidence of the hospital's liability for your injuries, which may include testimony from a medical expert about the care you received.
  2. Calculate the value of your damages.
  3. File your lawsuit by the applicable legal deadline.

How do I sue a company? ›

Steps to Suing a Company
  1. Determine who it is you want to sue. You need to find out if it is a business, an individual, or both.
  2. Determine the correct jurisdiction. ...
  3. Draft a demand letter. ...
  4. Fill up the court forms and register with the court. ...
  5. Receive your court date.
  6. Serve documents to the defendant via mail.

Can I claim medical negligence after 20 years? ›

Can I claim for medical negligence after 20 years? There's usually a time limit of three years for bringing a medical negligence claim. But, crucially, this can either be: Three years from the time the negligence occurred, or.

Is medical negligence personal injury? ›

However, if they prove you're the person at fault for the accident, then it typically doesn't count as personal injury negligence. On the other hand, a medical negligence claim is only suitable in instances where your injury, illness or suffering was specifically at the hands of a negligent medical professional.

Can I claim medical negligence after 6 years? ›

In general terms the 'limitation period' for most damages claims is six years, in the case of personal injury claims the period is reduced to three years (as set out by section 11 of the act). The 'Limitation Period' for making a medical negligence claim is also three years, the same as a Personal Injury claim.

What is the most difficult element of negligence to prove? ›

The Defendant Breached His or Her Duty of Care

This element is often the most difficult to prove, as it requires the plaintiff to show evidence of the defendant's act of negligence. A “breach of duty” is anything that violates the accepted standards of care for the situation.

What 4 elements must a plaintiff prove? ›

The four elements that a plaintiff must prove to win a negligence suit are 1) Duty, 2) Breach, 3) Cause, and 4) Harm.

What are the 3 types of tort? ›

Torts fall into three general categories: intentional torts (e.g., intentionally hitting a person); negligent torts (e.g., causing an accident by failing to obey traffic rules); and strict liability torts (e.g., liability for making and selling defective products - see Products Liability).

What is an exception to the statute of limitations? ›

As of the writing of this, they include property damage/trespassing, child assault/sex abuse, fraud, wrongful birth, victim of serious felony, and breach of contract (written contract is different than oral contract).

What are the four elements needed in a negligence case? ›

In order to establish negligence, you must be able to prove four “elements”: a duty, a breach of that duty, causation and damages.

How much can you sue for emotional distress? ›

Emotional distress can often qualify for both special and general damages. Because of this, pain and suffering compensation usually amounts to 2 to 5 times the total costs of medical bills (therapies, medications, etc.) and lost wages from missed work. This amount can vary significantly on a case-by-case basis.

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