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North Carolina Civil Statute of Limitations Laws

Plaintiffs have time limits for filing civil lawsuits, which differ by the type of claim (in most states). These time limits, referred to as the civil statute of limitations, are meant to help preserve the integrity of evidence and witness testimony. North Carolina's civil statute of limitations laws provide a three-year time limit for personal injuries, fraud, and many other causes of action, but just a one-year limit for defamation.

Some people believe that if you caused someone else harm, you should always be able to be held accountable for that harm, regardless of the time passed. However, statutes of limitations are not designed to let people off the hook. Instead, their goal is efficiency and preserving evidence. The more time passes, the more witnesses forget, and the more likely that important documents are lost or destroyed.

This article provides a brief overview of the civil statute of limitations in North Carolina.

North Carolina Civil Statute of Limitations Laws: At a Glance

Look at the following table for a complete list of North Carolina's civil statute of limitations laws, while the section below contains additional information about them. See Time Limit Considerations in Medical Malpractice Claims for additional information.

Injury to Person

Three years (N.C.G.S. § 1-52(16))


One year (N.C.G.S. § 1-54(3))


Three years (N.C.G.S. § 1-52(9))

Injury to Personal Property

Three years (N.C.G.S. § 1-52(4))

Professional Malpractice

Two years or more after the occurrence of the last act of the defendant, max. four years; damages by reason of a foreign object left in body; one year upon discovery, max. 10 years (N.C.G.S. § 1-15)


Three years (N.C.G.S. § 1-52(3))

Collection of Rents

Three years (N.C.G.S. § 1-52)


Collection of Debt on Account


10 years (N.C.G.S. § 1-47)

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Get Help Understanding North Carolina Civil Statute of Limitations

Statute of limitations laws limits the time you have to file a civil lawsuit. If you're confused by the law or just need additional help with understanding how the law impacts your case, you should talk to an experienced litigation attorney in North Carolina.

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