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, for personal injury or 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 claims are governed by the same statute as personal injury cases.
“Within two years-
“(4) Actions for damages on account of the death of 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 medical malpractice statute 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)
Product defect cases are governed by the same statute of limitations as personal injury claims.
“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))
“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.
North Carolina follows the doctrine of contributory negligence rather than comparative negligence: If a plaintiff is found to be at all to blame for their own injuries, they cannot receive compensation.
Charitable organizations are not immune to legal claims.
Plaintiffs who are minors (younger than 18), incompetents or insane are granted the normal statute of limitations upon removal of this legal disability. 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 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.
North Carolina is not a no-fault state.
Consumer Fraud Complaint
In North Carolina, the Department of Justice handles consumer fraud complaints. You can file complaints online 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.