By :Douglas A. Petho
North Carolina Gen. Statute 90-21.19, effective October 1, 2011 and applying to causes of action arising after that date, limits “noneconomic damages” in medical malpractice cases to $500,000. The statute further provides that neither the attorneys nor any party or witness shall inform the jury or potential members of the jury panel of the limits.
Section 90 – 21.19B directs that in any malpractice action, any verdict or damage award of damages, shall indicate specifically what amount, if any, is awarded for non-economic damages.
There are exceptions contained in the statute. If the plaintiff suffered disfigurement, loss of use of a body part, permanent injury or death, the limits do not apply. Also, if the defendant acts in reckless disregard of the rights of others, is grossly negligent, fraudulent or acted with intent or malice, the limits do not apply.
Every three years the $500,000 is adjusted for inflation.