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In 2011, North Carolina Senate Bill 33, North Carolina’s medical malpractice reform law, severely limited the right of patients in bringing claims against doctors and hospitals. Due to this legislation, known as Session Law 2011-283, North Carolina medical malpractice lawyers are restricted from pursuing matters except those involving death, disabling or life-altering injuries, or nursing home abuse situations.

If this is something that concerns you, our attorneys encourage you to contact your local North Carolina state legislator and express your concerns. Until this law is changed, in certain cases there is little we can legally do to help patients harmed by a medical professional.

Cap on Non-Economic Damages

One of the most significant changes resulting from the enactment is the imposition of a $500,000 cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice suits. This limits potential compensation awards for physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other categories of loss that are not easily quantifiable.

It is important to note, however, that the limit on non-economic damages is not applicable if the injured party sustained permanent or disfiguring harm and the malpractice at issue was due to malice, recklessness, intentional acts, or gross negligence.

Different Standard of Proof

North Carolina’s tort reform law also sets different standards of proof for a plaintiff to prove her case. According to the law, victims must demonstrate that their injuries were the result of gross negligence, rather than standard negligence, if the treatment they received was rendered in almost any emergency context. This is a marked departure from the law in many jurisdictions, placing patients who suffer harm at a true disadvantage when it comes to seeking justice and accountability.

Medical Malpractice Scenarios and Their Aftermath

Sadly, an alarming number of North Carolinians each year experience avoidable harm and lasting damage due to malpractice involving:

  • Missed/erroneous diagnoses
  • Botched labor and delivery processes
  • Negligent administration of anesthesia
  • Misreading of laboratory test results
  • Surgical errors
  • Pharmacological mistakes
  • Failure to conduct adequate post-operative patient monitoring

Medical Malpractice Reform in North Carolina

The feelings of anger and disappointment that stem from the negligent acts or omissions of a medical provider are palpable, do not fade quickly and can have long-lasting, damaging effects.

Unfortunately, the 2011 North Carolina medical malpractice reform law poses significant challenges to North Carolina patients and their attorneys seeking justice for injuries.

If you were injured by a medical professional and we cannot take your case due to restrictions under North Carolina Session Law 2011-283, contact your local representative to express your situation and concerns. Only after hearing from you, North Carolina residents, will our representatives truly understand how Session Law 2011-283 put our state’s medical patients at a disadvantage.