How long do you have to file a wrongful death suit?

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How long do you have to file a wrongful death suit?

Asked on April 29, 2009 under Criminal Law, North Carolina


MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 14 years ago | Contributor

Do you have a lawyer? The "personal representative" of the deceased usually must file suit within a specific period of time. If you need a lawyer, try Also read:

In North Carolina:

1‑15.  Statute runs from accrual of action.

(a)       Civil actions can only be commenced within the periods  prescribed in this Chapter, after the cause of action has accrued, except where in special cases a different limitation is prescribed by statute.

(b)       Repealed by Session Laws 1979, c. 654, s. 3.

(c)       Except where otherwise provided by statute, a cause of action for malpractice arising out of the performance of or failure to perform professional services shall be deemed to accrue at the time of the occurrence of the last act of the defendant giving rise to the cause of action: Provided that whenever there is bodily injury to the  person, economic or monetary loss, or a defect in or damage to property which originates under circumstances making the injury, loss, defect or damage not readily apparent to the claimant at the time of its origin, and the injury, loss, defect or damage is discovered or should reasonably be discovered by the claimant two or more years after the occurrence of the last act of the defendant giving rise to the cause of action, suit must be commenced within one year from the date discovery is made: Provided nothing herein shall be construed to reduce the statute of limitation in any such case below three years. Provided further, that in no event shall an action be commenced more than four years from the last act of the defendant giving rise to the cause of action: Provided further, that where damages are sought by reason of a foreign object, which has no therapeutic or diagnostic purpose or effect, having been left in the body, a person seeking damages for malpractice may commence an action therefor within one year after discovery thereof as hereinabove provided, but in no event may the action be commenced more than 10 years from the last act of the defendant giving rise to the cause of action. (C.C.P., s. 17; Code, s. 138; Rev., s. 360; C.S., s. 405; 1967, c. 954, s. 3; 1971, c. 1157, s. 1; 1975, 2nd Sess., c. 977, ss. 1, 2; 1979, c. 654, s. 3.)


§ 1‑53.  Two years.

Within two years ‑

(1)       An action against a local unit of government upon a contract, obligation or liability arising out of a contract, express or implied. Unless otherwise provided by law, if the preceding sentence of this subsection would bar commencement of a cause of action arising out of a contract to improve real property: (i) such an action may be brought no later than 90 days after substantial completion, provided proper notice of the claim has been given if required by contract, or (ii) if prior to substantial completion the contract was terminated by either party, such an action may be brought no later than 90 days after the date of termination of the contract. As used in this subdivision, "substantial completion" has the same meaning as in G.S. 1‑50(a)(5)c. This subdivision shall not apply to actions based upon bonds, notes and interest coupons or when a different period of limitation is prescribed by this Article.

(2)       An action to recover the penalty for usury, including an action regarding the financing of usurious points, usurious fees, or other usurious charges; the two‑year period shall accrue with each payment made and accepted on the loan.

(3)       The forfeiture of all interest for usury.

(4)       Actions for damages on account of the death of a person caused by the wrongful act, neglect or fault of another under G.S. 28A‑18‑2; the cause of action shall not accrue until the date of death. Provided that, whenever the decedent would have been barred, had he lived, from bringing an action for bodily harm because of the provisions of G.S. 1‑15(c) or 1‑52(16), no action for his death may be brought.  (1874‑5, c. 243; 1876‑7, c. 91, s. 3; Code, ss. 756, 3836; 1895, c. 69; Rev., s. 396; C.S., s. 442; 1931, c. 231; 1937, c. 359; 1945, c. 774; 1951, c. 246, s. 2; 1979, c. 654, s. 3; 1981, c. 777, s. 3; 2007‑351, s. 1; 2008‑139, s. 1.)

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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