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Product Liability Statute of Limitations in North Carolina


Products liability cases are personal injury claims that arise when someone is injured because of a poorly designed or manufactured product. The product itself may be a medical device, a drug, a tool, a vehicle, a piece of machinery, an electric cigarette, or any other item that is used in everyday life. A statute of limitation is the time within which a lawsuit has to be filed without it being subject to dismissal for being untimely. The idea behind a statute of limitation is to place a limit on how long someone has to file a lawsuit after they are harmed. If someone files a lawsuit against a negligent product designer or manufacturer after the applicable statute of limitation, it is very likely their product liability claim will be dismissed. The Raleigh attorneys of Maginnis Law are experienced in helping victims of dangerous products determine the applicable statute of limitation for their product liability case.

Three (3) Year Statute of Limitation for Product Liability Personal Injury Claims

The basic statute of limitations in North Carolina for a product liability claim is set forth in N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1-52. It provides a 3 year statute of limitation. The statute begins to “run” when the “bodily harm to the claimant . . . becomes apparent or ought reasonably to have become apparent to the claimant.” This latter provision is important. In many cases, a product may be poisoning you or otherwise causing you injury, even though the harm is not immediately apparent. This is often the case with harmful pharmaceuticals or medical devices. Your actual statute of limitations against the drug manufacturer or device maker would not begin to accrue until you discover the harm or reasonably ought to have discovered the harm. This is the so-called “discovery” rule.

Ten (10) Year Statute of Repose for Dangerous Product Claims

Notably, N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1-52 also provides an outside period of 10 years from the last negligent act of the Defendant causing harm. This is called a “statute of repose” and it limits the discovery rule. You can think of the statute of limitations as the initial limitation on filing a lawsuit that has to be met, and the statute of repose as a second outside time limit that also must be met. Section 1-52 itself reads in part, “no cause of action shall accrue more than 10 years from the last act or omission of the defendant giving rising to the cause of action.” In practice this means that if you discover a harm more than 10 years after the last act which caused the harm, you do not actually get 3 years to file suit. Your claim may be dismissed by the Court based on the outside 10 year time limit set forth in § 1-52.

Importance of Seeking Counsel to Evaluate Statute of Limitation Issues

If you have suffered a serious injury because of a dangerous product, it is important that you seek legal counsel as soon as possible to evaluate for potential statute of limitations issues. If your case is successful, you may be able to recover significant compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, physical pain, mental suffering, disability and impairment, and any disfigurement caused by the dangerous product. If you have lost a loved one because of a dangerous product, it is also important to understand North Carolina has a shorter statute of limitations for wrongful death actions.

The attorneys of Maginnis Law have represented countless North Carolinians in complex claims against major corporations and insurance carriers. The firm focuses on establishing a real lawyer-client relationship, not just a technical one. This means that you will work primarily with your attorney, not a “case manager” or paralegal. To set up a free consultation, please visit our contact page or call lead personal injury attorney Shawn Howard at 919.480.8526. If the firm is able to assist you, we will do so on a contingency fee basis – meaning you owe no fees unless and until we make a recovery on your behalf. We represent folks throughout all of North Carolina with dangerous product claims, including Raleigh, Durham, Charlotte, Wilmington, Fayetteville, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and Asheville.

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