If you're thinking about filing a medical malpractice claim in North Carolina, it's important to understand the different state laws that likely apply to your case, including:
North Carolina's "statute of limitations" deadline for filing medical malpractice lawsuits in the state's civil court system says that this kind of case must be brought to court within:
(N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1-15 (2022).)
It's crucial to pay attention to the statute of limitations as it applies to your case. If you try to file your lawsuit after the deadline has passed—and no exception applies to alter or extend the deadline—the court will throw out your case. That means you'll lose your right to any compensation for the health care provider's error and its impact on your life.
North Carolina, like many states, sets limits on the non-economic damages that are available to a successful plaintiff in a medical malpractice case.
Non-economic damages include compensation for non-monetary losses like pain and suffering or the loss of enjoyment of life caused by the medical malpractice. North Carolina law limits non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases to $500,000. Beginning in 2014, this amount has been adjusted upward for inflation every third year. The latest increase (effective January 1, 2020) set the cap at $562,338. This cap will not apply in cases where the injured patient suffered certain disfiguring or permanent injury AND the defendant's conduct was reckless, grossly negligent, intentional, or malicious. (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 90-21.19 (2022).)
North Carolina does not limit economic damages, which cover losses like medical bills and lost wages stemming from the malpractice. However, North Carolina does usually require two separate trials to be held if the amount of damages claimed is greater than $150,000. One trial focuses on liability, while the other focuses on the amount of damages. Both trials are heard by the same jury and judge. These two trials may be combined into a single trial if the judge finds good cause to take that step.
North Carolina has two laws that relate specifically to the type and amount of evidence required in a medical malpractice case.
The first rule requires the injured person to employ the services of at least one qualified expert medical witness. In a sworn affidavit filed with the court, the expert must swear under oath that he or she has reviewed the injured person's medical records and is prepared to testify that the medical care the injured person received fell below the accepted standard of care and amounted to medical negligence.
The second evidentiary rule applies to the burden of proof in medical malpractice cases. In most cases, an injured patient must prove "by the greater weight of the evidence" (meaning that it was more likely than not) that the health care provider's failure to meet the standard of care caused the patient's injuries.
If you've been harmed by a health care provider's mistake in North Carolina, it might make sense to discuss your situation with a legal professional, and get a clear sense of your options. You can use the contact tools on this page to reach out to a medical malpractice lawyer in your area and get a free case evaluation. Learn more about finding the right medical malpractice lawyer for you and your case.