Individual States 

NORTH CAROLINA

ASSUMPTION OF RISK

Assumption of risk bars recovery in negligence. Walser v. Coley, 205 S.E.2d 366 (N.C. 1974) .

Note: North Carolina does not recognize strict liability in product liability actions. N.C. Gen. Stat. §99B-1.1 .

CAPS ON NONECONOMIC DAMAGES

There are no exclusive Products Liability statutes under this category.

COLLATERAL SOURCE RULE

There are no exclusive Products Liability statutes under this category.

COMPARATIVE FAULT

Contributory negligence is a complete bar to recovery to claims of negligence or implied warranty. N.C. Gen. Stat. §99B-4(2) .

ECONOMIC LOSS

North Carolina has adopted the economic loss rule under which purely economic losses are not recoverable in tort. Chicopee, Inc. v. Sims Metal Works, Inc., 391 S.E.2d 211 (1990) .

A plaintiff may seek damages in a negligence action where a defective product causes personal injury or damage to property other than the property that was the subject of the contract. Mason v. Yontz, 403 S.E.2d 536 (1991) .

PUNITIVE DAMAGES

Punitive damages may be awarded only if the claimant proves that the defendant is liable for compensatory damages, and proves by clear and convincing evidence that fraud, malice, or willful or wanton conduct was present. N.C. Gen. Stat. §1D-15(a) , (b) .

Punitive damages will not be awarded against a person solely on the basis of vicarious liability for the acts or omissions of another. N.C. Gen. Stat. §1D-15(c) .

Punitive damages may be awarded against a person only if that person participated in the conduct constituting the aggravating factor giving rise to the punitive damages or if, in the case of a corporation, the officers, directors, or managers of the corporation participated in or condoned the conduct constituting the aggravating factor giving rise to punitive damages. N.C. Gen. Stat. §1D-15(a) .

Punitive damages shall not be awarded against a person solely for breach of contract. Stanback v. Stanback, 297 N.C. 181 (1979) .

Punitive damages awarded against a defendant shall not exceed three times the amount of compensatory damages or two hundred fifty thousand dollars ($250,000), whichever is greater. N.C. Gen. Stat. §1D-25 .

Punitive damages may be allowed in wrongful death actions. N.C. Gen. Stat. §28A-18-2(b)(5) .

RIGHT TO CONTRIBUTION

North Carolina has adopted the Uniform Contribution Among Tortfeasors Act whereby two or more persons, who become jointly or severally liable in tort for the same injury to person or property or for the same wrongful death, retain a right of contribution among them even though judgment has not been recovered against all or any of them. (There is no apportionment of fault). N.C. Gen. Stat. §1B-1(a) .

The right of contribution exists only in favor of a tortfeasor who has paid more than his pro rata share of the common liability, and his total recovery is limited to the amount paid by him in excess of his pro rata share. No tortfeasor is compelled to make contribution beyond his own pro rata share of the entire liability. N.C. Gen. Stat. §1B-1(b) .

A tortfeasor who enters into a settlement with a claimant is not entitled to recover contribution from another tortfeasor whose liability for the injury or wrongful death has not been extinguished nor in respect to any amount paid in a settlement which is in excess of what was reasonable. N.C. Gen. Stat. §1B-1(d) .

A liability insurer, who by payment has discharged in full or in part the liability of a tortfeasor and has thereby discharged in full its obligation as insurer, succeeds to the tortfeasor's right of contribution to the extent of the amount it has paid in excess of the tortfeasor's pro rata share of the common liability. This provision does not limit or impair any right of subrogation arising from any other relationship. N.C. Gen. Stat. §1B-1(e) .

Where one tortfeasor is entitled to indemnity from another, the right of the indemnity obligee is for indemnity and not contribution, and the indemnity obligor is not entitled to contribution from the obligee for any portion of his indemnity obligation. N.C. Gen. Stat. §1B-1(f) .

SPECIAL DEFENSES

Breach of express warranty is the only product liability action available against a seller who acquired a sold product, in a sealed container, or had no reasonable opportunity to inspect, as long as the manufacturer is subject to the state's jurisdiction and has not been judicially declared insolvent, and the seller did not mishandle or damage the product. (Abrogates the privity requirement in breach of implied warranty claims). N.C. Gen. Stat. §99B-2 .

No manufacturer or seller shall be held liable in any product liability action if the use of the product was contrary to any express warnings if the user knew or with the exercise of reasonable and diligent care should have known of such instructions or warnings; or the user knew of or discovered a defect and then unreasonably exposed himself to the danger; or the claimant failed to exercise reasonable care and such failure was a proximate cause of the injury. N.C. Gen. Stat. §99B-4 .

Where proximate cause of injury, death, or damage was an alteration or modification by a party other than the manufacturer or seller, the manufacturer or seller will not be liable unless they consented or instructed the party to make the alteration or modification. N.C. Gen. Stat. §99B-3 .

STATUTES OF LIMITATION

Personal injury or property damage actions (beyond damage to the product itself), must be brought within three years and accrue when harm becomes apparent or ought to have been apparent to claimant, but they can not accrue more than ten years after the last act or omission of defendant giving rise to the cause of action. N.C. Gen. Stat. §1-52(16) .

Wrongful death actions must be brought within two years. N.C. Gen. Stat. §1-53(4) .

Except where bodily injury is an essential element of the cause of action, the statute of limitations for breach of warranty is four years. N.C. Gen. Stat. §25-2-725(1) .

STATUTES OF REPOSE

Product liability actions must be brought within six years of initial purchase or consumption. N.C. Gen. Stat. §1-50(a)(6) .

STRUCTURED SETTLEMENT

There are no exclusive Products Liability statutes under this category.