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Is There a Statute of Limitations on Medical Malpractice Claims?

person lying in a hospital bed

Making Your Claim

There are many reasons that either prevent or delay an injured patient or loved one from pursuing a medical malpractice or wrongful death claim. Some may be overwhelmed as they focus on their recovery, others are grieving the loss of a loved one, and many are not even aware that the injury or death was caused by malpractice. For these and many other reasons, North Carolina recognizes a statute of limitations to allow ample time for patients and loved ones to investigate a medical malpractice or wrongful death claim.

Know the Statute of Limitations

Depending on the circumstances surrounding your case, the statute of limitations may vary. Accordingly, it is important to speak with an attorney at your earliest convenience. Here are the two main timeframes that North Carolina recognizes.

Wrongful Death (Two Years)

When medical malpractice results in the death of a patient, it is treated as a claim for Wrongful Death. Under North Carolina General Statute §1-53(4), an action for damages on account of the death of a loved one must be filed within two years from the date of death.

Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury (Three Years)

Generally speaking, North Carolina General Statutes §1-15(c) and §1-52(16) allows an action for personal injury, physical damage, and medical malpractice to be filed within three years from the dates of injury or damage. However, there are exceptions and the facts and circumstances for each patient can vary and may affect your statute of limitations. Accordingly, it is crucial that you discuss your case with a licensed attorney as soon as possible.

Important Exceptions

Foreign Objects: Even if more than three years have passed following a procedure, North Carolina General Statute § 1-15(c) allows an action to be filed within one year of the discovery of a retained foreign object, such as a sponge or a surgical instrument left behind during surgery. However, no action can be filed more than ten years from the last act of the potential defendant.

Minors: The Statute of Limitation for an injured minor can be complicated and is calculated based on a number of circumstances such as the type of claim and when the injury occurred as outlined in North Carolina General Statute § 1-17. Importantly, a minor’s parents, or guardians, may have a claim for medical expenses, for which a different statute of limitations applies.

Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim? We Can Help.

Our North Carolina attorneys have been helping victims of medical malpractice recover damages for decades. If you or a loved one is looking to file a medical malpractice claim and aren’t sure where to start, call (866) 380-2281 to schedule a consultation with a member of the Daniel, Holoman & Associates LLP team today!