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Potential medical malpractice clients often call or email us about the NC statute of limitations on personal injury and medical malpractice–here are some answers to routine questions (FAQ’s).

North Carolina follows a three-year personal injury statute of limitations for actions filed in NC state courts that involve common-law negligence personal injury claims. However, North Carolina follows a shorter two-year statute of limitations for wrongful death claims that arise from negligent conduct. Some very limited exceptions to the statute of limitations can apply in circumstances involving minors, as well as to persons who were under a disability, such as an incompetent (where a person is being cared for and has been declared incompetent, or is suffering a mental disability whether from an accident or otherwise).

In North Carolina, medical malpractice actions (involving doctor/surgeon errors, hospital malpractice, nursing home negligence/abuse) are considered personal injury actions and the three year statute of limitations will apply unless some special exception exists. One must be careful if the medical malpractice involves a wrongful death as the two-year limitation period would normally apply.

North Carolina also has a special limitation of action statute called a “borrowing statute” which favors North Carolina residents if they are hurt in another state, and if the other state has a shorter statute of limitations than in North Carolina. NC’s borrowing statute says that if a resident of NC is hurt in another state, and files the personal injury suit in North Carolina, the NC courts should “borrow” the state limitation period of the state where the accident occurred. However, the borrowing statute goes on to state that if the other state’s statute of limitations is shorter, and not as long as North Carolina’s, then the North Carolina three year statute will usually apply. What this means is that if a North Carolina resident is hurt in Virginia, and the North Carolina resident wanted to file the action in North Carolina, the North Carolina three-year statute of limitations would apply in the NC state court, even though Virginia follows a two-year statute of limitations for actions filed in Virginia court. This is based on the special North Carolina borrowing statute mentioned above, but keep in mind that there still must be a legal basis to sue the negligent party in the state of North Carolina or the negligent party can get the case moved out of NC most likely. An experienced injury attorney licensed and practicing in Virginia and North Carolina should evaluate an injury claim involving across border injury circumstances like the examples mentioned.

Our Virginia/Carolina injury law firm is based out of Norfolk/Virginia Beach, Virginia (we have staff that do reside in North Carolina also) and given that we are so close to the North Carolina border, we are often asked to represent persons that commute between North Carolina and Virginia, and vice-versa. There are many daily commuters from the Outer Banks (Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills, Corolla, Manteo) as well as from Elizabeth City/Edenton, North Carolina who commute into Virginia (Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk).

Shapiro, Cooper Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm is based in Virginia (VA), near the Northeast North Carolina (NC) border, practicing primarily in the southeastern U.S. and handles only injury law, including car, truck, railroad, and medical negligence cases and more. The firm’s website is:, the firm edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard, as well as the Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard and also hosts a video library covering many FAQ’s on personal injury subjects. Lawyers licensed in: VA, NC, SC, WV, DC, KY.

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