All medical malpractice lawsuits in North Carolina are first directed to a court-ordered mediation system. To bypass mediation, a claimant must prove good cause in court. A person claiming medical malpractice must sue within 3 years of the last action that caused injury. A medical malpractice suit can also be filed within a year of discovering that injury if it hasn’t been more than four years since the initial act that caused the injury.
Suits involving foreign objects left in the body can be brought up 10 years later, but it must be less than a year after the foreign object was found. Wrongful death suits currently have to be filed within 2 years. The same statute of limitation rules apply to children, with one major exception: If the parents have not filed suit for medical malpractice, the child can sue for injuries up until age 19.
Claimants cannot recover any damages if they contributed in any way to their injury. If the claimant in any way failed to get treatment or ignored the injury, he or she can be found to have contributory negligence. Claimants, however, cannot be held to contributory negligent for the initial action that caused the injury, only for later delaying or refusing treatment.
North Carolina state law places no limits on the compensatory damages awarded in malpractice lawsuits. Punitive damages cannot exceed the lesser of $250,000 or three times the compensatory damages.
Several and Joint Liability
Other North Carolina laws concerning medical malpractice suits stipulate that:
- The state recognizes joint and several liability.
- Expert witnesses in a trial must be licensed doctors and be qualified to give sworn testimony about standards of medical care.
- Attorneys fees are not limited.
- The theory of apparent or ostensible agency does not apply when hospitals are held liable for negligence by doctors not employed by the hospital.
North Carolina - News Articles
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