North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers looked at the 5,401 med-mal cases filed in North Carolina from 1998 through 2006 and compiled a few statistics. The median jury award in medical malpractice cases was $301,300. The largest medical malpractice award was $8.1 million.
Looking at personal injury cases in North Carolina generally, Jury Verdict Research estimates the median award in North Carolina is $10,000. Personal injury plaintiff receive damages in 61% of cases that are tried (the national average is 53%).
The average jury verdict in medical malpractice cases in North Carolina is relatively low. I do not have the national median for medical malpractice cases in front of me but the average – as opposed to the median which makes a difference – is over $1 million. The national median for personal injury cases generally is $38,179 which means that North Carolina and the nationwide plaintiff recovery probability, the number of plaintiff verdicts to total verdicts, is 53 percent.
The median personal injury award in North Carolina is low, but a part of that is because of antiquated jurisdictional limits in North Carolina. Civil jurisdiction for District Court, which does involve a judge instead of a jury – is proper for cases involving amounts in controversy of $10,000 or less. Many states have jurisdictional amounts that are five times North Carolina’s $10,000 maximum. This leads to more jury trials in small cases, thereby decreasing the overall average.
North Carolina Malpractice Lawsuits Are a Hill to Climb
Regarding North Carolina malpractice cases, I think, John Edwards’ record notwithstanding, it has been a tough history for medical malpractice lawyers and their clients in North Carolina. One old study I saw found that North Carolina medical malpractice plaintiffs win 11% of the cases that went to trial.
Another study I read looked at eighteen jury verdicts from North Carolina. In each case, the medical malpractice insurance company obtained expert evaluations on the question of liability. The study divided the reviews into three categories: (1) probable liability, (2) uncertain liability (when experts disagreed), and (3) unlikely liability. The study found that plaintiffs won 10% of the trials in which the doctor’s care had been considered good, 17% of the cases where the experts were uncertain, and 50% of the trials where the experts thought there was liability.
I wonder about the experience/quality of the medical malpractice lawyers who lost the cases where there appeared to be liability because quality malpractice lawyers can make a huge difference not just at trial but in discovery. But the take-home message is clear: medical malpractice cases are tough anywhere, but particularly in North Carolina.
North Carolina Personal Injury Jury Verdicts
- 2023, North Carolina: $3,000,000 Settlement. A 71-year-old pedestrian was crossing a street and was struck by a pickup truck. The injuries were awful: the plaintiff suffered a traumatic brain bleed, rendering her dependent on her daughter and confined to an assisted living facility. The plaintiff’s lawsuit focused on the construction defendant who were resurfacing the road, alleging traffic was improperly diverted, causing confusion for pedestrians and traffic. After a failed mediation – the first mediation usually fails in large claims like this – the parties reached a settlement of $3.03 million before trial.
- 2023, North Carolina: $545,000 Verdict. A motorcyclist was driving down Blue Ridge Parkway when he was hit by an SUV that ran a red light. The driver had a BAC of .33, ridiculously over the legal limit. The motorcyclist suffered a comminuted intertrochanteric fracture to the left hip, trochanteric bursitis, and a femoral shaft fracture. His four day hospital stay included internal fixation surgery on his hip the following day. The jury awarded $545,000, with $505,000 for his personal injuries and $39,872.50 for property damage.
- 2022, North Carolina: $87,000 Verdict. A 30-something woman and her son walked towards her car in a Walmart parking lot. They were struck. The woman suffered a permanent left intercostal nerve injury while her son sustained a “goose egg.” She alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. The woman claimed he unsafely sped in a parking lot and failed to watch for pedestrians. A jury awarded $87,000.
- 2022, North Carolina: $250,000 Verdict. A 70-something pedestrian was struck. She suffered left tibia and fibula fractures and a right rotator cuff tear. The woman initially underwent physical therapy. Several months later, she underwent a rotator cuff arthroscopy. The woman subsequently underwent additional physical therapy sessions. She alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. The woman claimed he failed to pay attention to the road. A jury awarded $250,000.
- 2021, North Carolina: $90,000 Settlement. A minor passenger was involved in a collision. She suffered personal injuries. The girl’s parents alleged negligence against her driver. They claimed she failed to safely operate her vehicle. This case settled for $90,000.
- 2021, North Carolina: $10,755,000 Verdict. A 71-year-old woman was struck head-on. She suffered flail chest. The woman also fractured her sternum, right knee, right leg, right ankle, left knee, and left pelvis. She was hospitalized for over three weeks. The woman underwent ventilation during that period. She also underwent multiple repair procedures. The woman spent three additional weeks in a nursing facility. She subsequently received in-home care and extensive rehabilitation. The woman eventually underwent an additional procedure. She could no longer work for over eight hours a week. The woman alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. She claimed he drove while intoxicated and failed to maintain an appropriate lookout. The woman received a $10,755,000 jury verdict.
- 2021, North Carolina: $400,000 Settlement. A 50-something pedestrian was struck at an intersection. She suffered an L3-4 cyst and bilateral leg pain, spasms, and numbness. The woman also suffered the aggravation of her pre-existing lumbar stenosis. She underwent multiple procedures. The woman also underwent physical therapy for eight weeks. She was left with core strength and mobility loss. The woman alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. She claimed he failed to maintain an appropriate lookout and yield to a pedestrian. This case settled for $400,000.
- 2020, North Carolina: $1,100,000 Settlement. A 30-year-old police officer was sideswiped on the highway. His vehicle subsequently went off-road. The man suffered a leg fracture. He underwent multiple repair procedures. The man was left with compartment syndrome. He could no longer return to work. The man alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. He claimed he made a negligent lane change and failed to maintain an appropriate lookout. This case settled for $1,100,000.
- 2020, North Carolina: $1,800,000 Settlement. An 84-year-old man visited a body shop. He fell into the maintenance pit. The man struck his head. He suffered a traumatic brain injury and a subarachnoid brain hemorrhage. The man was hospitalized for 10 days. He sustained permanent cognitive issues, including memory loss. The man now required round-the-clock care at an assisted living facility. He alleged negligence against the body shop. The man claimed its staff negligently allowed him to enter the shop unescorted and failed to adequately warn him of unsafe conditions. This case settled for $1,800,000.
- 2020, North Carolina: $5,780,000 Verdict. A 30-something man was struck head-on by a pizza delivery driver. He was conscious at the scene. The man lost consciousness before being airlifted to a hospital. He died several hours later. The man’s family alleged negligence against the delivery driver. They claimed he recklessly drive and failed to maintain his travel lane. The family also made a vicarious liability claim. This case settled for $5,780,000.
- 2020, North Carolina: $498,500 Verdict. A 28-year-old man was struck by a flatbed truck. He died from his injuries. The man’s family alleged negligence against the truck driver and his employer. They claimed he failed to safely operate his vehicle. The family also claimed the truck driver’s employer inadequately maintained the vehicle. This case settled for $1,263,500.
- 2018, North Carolina: $511,200 Verdict. A man sustained Stage IV bedsores while hospitalized. He alleged negligence against the hospital. The man claimed its staff wrongly designed him as “self-turn,” failed to periodically reposition him, and failed to properly treat his bedsore. A jury awarded $511,200.
North Carolina Personal Injury Law
North Carolina Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations for personal injury cases in North Carolina is three years from the date of the injury. This means that an individual who has suffered an injury has three years from the date of the incident to file a personal injury lawsuit. If the individual does not file a lawsuit within this time period, they may be barred from seeking compensation for their injuries.
However, there are certain exceptions to this general rule that can make the time period shorter or longer. On example is for minors and the mentally incapacitated. The most common extension is the “discovery rule.” The discovery rule is a legal principle that extends the statute of limitations when a plaintiff does not discover the injury until after the statute of limitations has expired. In these cases, the statute of limitations begins to run from the date that the plaintiff discovers, or should have discovered, the injury.
Be careful assuming this rule applies to your case. Many victims who rely on the discovery rule find out that the rule does not apply to them. Or they assume the wrongful death deadline to file is the same as the personal injury deadline. Call a North Carolina personal injury lawyer and an opinion on what your deadline to file might be.
Suing Government Entities in North Carolina
Many lawyers write these summaries and say the statute of limitations is three years. And leave it at that because it is a correct statement of law. But you really have to be careful sitting on your rights because deadlines to file a lawsuits are unforgiving.
A perfect example is the requirement to provide notice when suing the government in North Carolina. You are required to give the government sufficient notice of a potential claim so that it can investigate and attempt to resolve the matter before a lawsuit is filed.
So under North Carolina law, a notice of claim must be filed with the relevant government entity within six months of the date of the injury or damage. The notice must include a description of the injury or damage, the time and place it occurred, and the names of any witnesses.
You also must include in the notice of claim include a statement of the amount of damages claimed. This amount should be as specific as possible and take into account all of the plaintiff’s past, present, and future expenses, including medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
But the bigger take home message here – and we have been hammering it pretty hard – is that there are so many exceptions and complexities to the statute of limitations that we cannot cover here. You really want to talk to a North Carolina lawyer who can tell you what your deadlines are.
Another North Caroline Deadline to File: Statute of Repose
The North Carolina statute of repose is a law that limits the amount of time a person has to bring a legal claim for injury or damage due to a defective product or construction defect. The statute of repose sets a specific time limit after the completion of a construction project or the delivery of a product, beyond which a person is no longer able to bring a claim for injury or damage resulting from that product or construction project.
In North Carolina, the statute of repose for injury or damage resulting from a construction defect is ten years after the completion of the construction project. For injury or damage resulting from a defective product, the statute of repose is twelve years after the delivery of the product.
We saw the statute of repose in North Carolina on full display when victims were barred from bring a water contamination lawsuit from Camp Lejeune because of the statute of repose. This injustice prompted Congress to pass the Camp Lejeune Justice Act.
Hiring a North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyer
Our firm handles serious injury and wrongful death lawsuits in North Carolina, working with trusted colleagues in your state. How does that work? We work with and compensate our North Carolina lawyers out of our attorneys’ fees. You pay no additional contingency fees for having two law firms instead of one. And you only owe a fee if you get settlement compensation or a jury payout for you.
If you were hurt and believe you have a potential personal injury lawsuit in North Carolina, get a free no-obligation consultation online or call us today at 800-553-8082.