North Carolina Medical Malpractice Laws [2024 Updated]

North Carolina Medical Malpractice Laws [2024 Updated]

Medical professionals and healthcare providers owe a significant level of care to their patients to uphold high standards when it comes to examinations, treatments, medication, and other care. Those that fail to meet this standard can be held accountable through medical malpractice claims. If you’ve suffered an injury as the result of doctor negligence, it is important to work with a North Carolina medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible.

An experienced medical malpractice lawyer, like those at the Tatum Law Firm, PLLC, can assess the details of your case, and help you evaluate the worth of your claim. Our team has over 20 years of experience helping clients recover maximum compensation and is prepared to see how we can help you.

What Is Medical Malpractice in North Carolina?

Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor, nurse, or other healthcare personnel fails to provide the required care that is expected of them, ultimately causing their patients harm. A key determination in identifying malpractice is whether another competent and prudent healthcare provider in the same scenario would have acted similarly.

If another competent healthcare professional would not act in the same way given the circumstances, it is most likely medical malpractice.

For example, a healthcare provider may:

  • Fail to diagnose or misdiagnose a medical condition
  • Misprescribe or misadminister medication
  • Make a critical mistake during surgery, childbirth, or other healthcare procedure
  • Ignore diagnosed conditions by not treating or failing to follow up
  • Provide treatment without consent or without properly informing the patient of potential risks

These are some of the more common examples of medical malpractice, but there are many more potential scenarios in which a medical professional could be guilty of malpractice.

What Does North Carolina Require for Medical Malpractice Claims?

In order to bring a valid medical malpractice claim, North Carolina requires claimants to provide the following:

  • Proof of negligence. To prove that the medical professional acted with negligence, you must demonstrate that they owed you a duty of care, breached that duty, and that your injuries were the direct result of that breach in care. There is an implied duty of care for any healthcare professional who is providing care to a patient.
    To establish that your provider breached this duty, you must compare their actions against the established standard of care determined by the local medical community related to your condition. Your lawyer can also help establish the link between their negligence and your injuries as a proximate cause.
  • Testimony and review by a medical professional. North Carolina requires all medical malpractice claims to provide testimony by a qualified medical professional in the same field of healthcare. They must review the details of the case, including the medical records, in order to affirm that the defendant indeed acted with negligence or violated their standard of care.
  • Mediation. The state requires both parties to undergo mediation before the trial. This process will take place after the discovery phase, during which both sides gather evidence and review documentation like medical records. Mediation involves a neutral third party to assist in reaching a voluntary settlement agreed on by both parties. Most cases end with a settlement outside of court.
  • Separate trials. For cases in which the damages exceed $150,000, the court may require separate trials to determine liability and evaluate the damages, respectively. Both trials are seen by the same judge and jury, but one trial will focus on determining liability while the other trial will determine the amount of damages if the defendant is found guilty.

North Carolina Medical Malpractice FAQs

Q: Is There a Cap on Medical Malpractice Damages in North Carolina?

A: In medical malpractice cases, North Carolina places a cap of $656,730 for any non-economic damages, including pain and suffering. However, there is no cap on economic damages, which includes medical expenses, lost wages, and the cost of ongoing care. There are exceptions to this cap, as in cases of permanent injury, severe disfigurement, or acts of gross negligence. If a healthcare professional is found to have acted recklessly, additional compensation may be awarded.

Q: What Is the Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice in North Carolina?

A: In North Carolina, there is a three-year statute of limitations for medical malpractice, starting from the date of the injury. However, if the injury was not immediately apparent, you may still be able to file a claim as long as you are within four years of the cause of the injury. The tatute of limitations is two years in cases of wrongful death. Generally, you should contact a malpractice lawyer as soon as possible if you believe you were harmed by negligence.

Q: Can You File a Claim Against a Doctor for Malpractice in North Carolina?

A: North Carolina allows individuals to legally bring a claim against a doctor or other healthcare provider if they believe malpractice was involved. To prove malpractice, they must establish both a duty of care and the ways in which that duty was breached. North Carolina also requires testimony from a qualified medical professional with similar certification and background to review the medical records to verify that the standard of care expected was not met.

Q: What Is the Difference Between Malpractice and Negligence?

A: Negligence is a broad legal term that refers to the failure of an individual to exercise the same level of care that another competent or prudent individual would exercise in the same situation. Malpractice specifically refers to professional negligence, which involves an individual, such as a healthcare provider, failing to provide the level of care expected in their profession. For malpractice to occur, the victim must have experienced some form of harm.

Contact Your North Carolina Medical Malpractice Lawyer Today

Victims of medical malpractice often see their lives change forever. For this reason, it is important to hold healthcare providers responsible for any negligence that causes further injury to their patients.

If you’ve suffered harm from improper or irresponsible care from a doctor, nurse, or other healthcare professional, it is vital you work with a member of our team at the Tatum Law Firm, PLLC. Our attorneys can help you recover fair and just compensation so you can begin a full recovery as soon as possible. Contact our office today for more details.