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How Long Do You Have to Sue for Medical Malpractice in North Carolina?

On Behalf of Christian Ayers
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The term “medical malpractice” defines any failure of a medical professional to meet their patient’s standard of care that results in harm to the patient. It is possible for any type of medical malpractice to leave lasting effects on the victim and impose various economic problems on their family. An experienced North Carolina medical malpractice attorney can be an invaluable asset if you intend to file such a claim.

How long do you have to sue for medical malpractice in North Carolina?

Filing Your Medical Malpractice Case

Medical malpractice claims in the state are beholden to a statute of limitations that you must meet if you intend to succeed with your claim. While your case may appear straightforward, the reality is that these are some of the most complex and challenging personal injury cases anyone can face. Additionally, there are special rules and limitations that apply to medical malpractice claims that do not apply to other personal injury claims.

One of the most important rules you will need to follow for your claim is the statute of limitations, or time limit for filing the case. For most medical malpractice claims, the statute is three years, starting on the date that the injury occurred. However, it is possible for some factors to extend this time limit. For example, if a surgical tool is left inside of your body, it can extend the statute of limitations to up to 10 years.

It is also possible for the discovery rule to apply to your case. This can extend the standard statute of limitations up to four years, depending on the timing of your discovery of your injury. Some effects of medical malpractice are not immediately noticeable, and in such cases, the statute of limitations allows for one year after the date you discovered the harm done in which to file your claim.

Benefits of Working With an Experienced Attorney

Do not make the mistake of assuming you can meet the procedural requirements and other challenges of your case on your own. While state law does not strictly require that you hire an attorney to represent your case, it is vital that you understand the value of having an experienced medical malpractice lawyer advising you.

Your legal team can help meet the statute of limitations for your medical malpractice claim and the other statutory rules you must follow to succeed with the claim. For example, you will need to obtain a statement from a medical professional who holds the same board certifications as the defendant that explains how the defendant breached your standard of care.

Hiring an experienced attorney also significantly increases your chances of maximizing your total recovery. While state law does limit compensation in medical malpractice cases in some ways, a good attorney is your optimal asset for maximizing your final case award.

The three-year statute of limitations may seem generous, but the reality is that this time limit can pass more quickly than you expect, and it will take time to gather the foundational materials of your case. The sooner you connect with an experienced medical malpractice attorney, the more likely you will be to meet all applicable procedural deadlines and succeed with your claim.


Q: What Qualifies as Medical Malpractice?

A: Medical malpractice occurs whenever a medical professional’s negligence results in harm to their patient. It’s important to note that medicine is inherently uncertain in many ways, and it’s possible for honest mistakes to occur and for symptoms of one condition to mimic the appearance of another. However, if a medical professional failed to meet their patient’s standard of care and harm resulted, any such incident would qualify as medical malpractice.

Q: Is There a Cap on Medical Malpractice Damages?

A: If you successfully prove another party committed medical malpractice and harmed you, there is no limit on the economic damages you can claim from the at-fault party. However, state law does limit the compensation you receive for your pain and suffering. As of January 1, 2023, the limit is $656,730, which is set to increase in 2024.

Q: How Long Do You Have to Sue for Medical Malpractice?

A: There are several procedural rules you must follow for making a medical malpractice claim, including meeting the statute of limitations. This is the time limit you have in which to file your claim; otherwise, you lose your chance to seek compensation from the defendant. The statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims in North Carolina is three years, starting on the date your injury occurred, but some factors can extend this time limit.

Q: What Are the Defendant’s Penalties for Committing Medical Malpractice?

A: Once you have proven that you were indeed injured by medical malpractice, the at-fault medical professional will not only face liability for the damages cited in your civil suit, but they will also face professional consequences, including potentially losing their medical license. If their behavior was particularly egregious or illegal, they may also face fines and other criminal penalties.

Q: How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Medical Malpractice Attorney?

A: The majority of attorneys representing medical malpractice claims and other civil claims for damages in the state do so on a contingency fee basis. This billing policy makes legal counsel more accessible to those who need it most by ensuring the client only pays their attorney if the attorney wins their case. Their contingency fee is a percentage of the final case award the attorney obtains on their behalf, and there is no fee if they cannot obtain compensation.

The right attorney can be an invaluable asset for any medical malpractice case. The team at Ayers, Whitlow & Dressler can provide the comprehensive legal counsel you need for your impending case and help determine the full extent of the damages you can seek from the defendant. If you’re ready to learn how a seasoned medical malpractice attorney can help with your case, contact Ayers, Whitlow & Dressler today to schedule a free consultation.