North Carolina Medical Malpractice: Laws, Claims and Damages
NORTH CAROLINA MEDICAL MALPRACTICE
North Carolina medical malpractice law, known colloquially as “med mal,” aims at protecting patients from the negligent acts of North Carolina health care providers. When a North Carolina health care provider is medically negligent – meaning that they injured a patient while treating them with substandard care – the patient may bring a medical malpractice suit against the health care provider in North Carolina to recover any losses incurred from their injuries. A health care provider treats a patient with substandard care when they use a standard of care below that set by their profession. A North Carolina medical malpractice suit can arise from any of the following situations:
- Delays in necessary treatment;
- Incorrect treatment or failure to treat;
- Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose;
- Nursing or surgical errors.
A patient should consult a North Carolina medical malpractice attorney immediately if they believe that a negligent health care provider in North Carolina has injured them.
Who Can Be Sued in a North Carolina Medical Malpractice Case?
In North Carolina, any health care provider may be held liable for medical negligence and be sued in a medical malpractice case. A health care provider in North Carolina is an individual or entity that is licensed to provide patients with medical services and/or treatment. Some common examples of North Carolina health care providers include midwives, nurses, doctors, physicians, hospitals, hospice care facilities, and clinics. If a patient is not sure whether a health care provider caused the injury, they should contact a North Carolina medical malpractice attorney with any questions.
North Carolina Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations
When a patient is injured by the medical negligence of a North Carolina health care provider, they must file a medical malpractice claim within the statute of limitations, or they will lose their claim forever. In North Carolina, a patient must file a claim within three years of the health care provider’s negligent act, or within one year of discovering the injury, whichever happens first. However, in no case may the patient file a claim more than four years after the date of the negligent act, except when a patient has found a foreign object within their body after a surgery. In this case, the patient must file the medical malpractice claim within one year of finding the object, and in no case more than ten years after the act.
Because the statute of limitations varies with the individual facts of the patient’s claim, an injured patient should be sure to contact a North Carolina medical malpractice attorney as soon as they believe they have been negligently injured. Failure to do so may result in a total bar to recovery.
Caps on Medical Malpractice Claims in North Carolina
There are no limits under North Carolina medical malpractice law to the amount of compensatory damages that an injured patient may collect from a negligent health care provider. However, North Carolina does limit the amount of punitive damages that a plaintiff may collect. Punitive damages are awarded when the court finds that the health care provider acted with malicious intent in injuring the plaintiff. Punitive damages in North Carolina are limited to three times the actual damages awarded, or $250,000 – whichever is greater. An injured patient should contact a North Carolina medical malpractice attorney to help them assess the value of their case and determine whether punitive damages are available.
Filing a North Carolina Medical Malpractice Claim
Medical malpractice law is a complex area of law, and filing a claim for a med mal lawsuit can be equally as complicated. Often, expert witnesses must be hired to determine whether the injury was caused while using an improper standard of care. Depositions must also be taken, and there will often be numerous court appearances. Furthermore, a patient’s claim may include several defendants, including the health care provider, their employer, or the manufacturer of faulty medical equipment. Any and all of these defendants will have a team of experienced defense attorneys ready to build a strong case for their client. For these reasons, an injured North Carolina patient should never try to file a claim for medical malpractice on their own. If a patient believes they have been the victim of medical negligence, they should hire a North Carolina medical malpractice attorney to help them through this intricate process.
North Carolina Medical Malpractice Laws
- Medicine and Allied Occupations: Definitions: Chapter 90, §90-21.11.
- Civil Procedure: Statute runs from accrual of action: Chapter 1, §1-15.
- Punitive Damages: Limitation of amount recovery: Chapter 1D, §1D-25.