North Carolina Product Liability Laws

Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors.

Product liability claims involve a wide variety of consumer goods, from automobiles and washing machines, to prescription drugs and asbestos. While two-thirds of the states have strict liability for product liability claims, which means the plaintiff need not prove any specific act or breach of duty, North Carolina is not one of them. Under North Carolina law, the plaintiff must prove the manufacturer's or seller's negligence in order to be compensated for their injuries.

The three main legal theories for a product liability claim in North Carolina are:

You must file your claim within the three-year statute of limitations (from the date of the injury) and make sure none of the affirmative defenses to your claim, such as modifications after the sale, apply. Even if you're not the person who bought the product, you may still have a valid claim if a product caused your injury.

North Carolina Product Liability Laws: The Basics

When you're seriously injured by a consumer product, despite using it properly, you may be entitled to seek compensation for your losses. Since the law's not always clear by reading a state code written in legalese, we've provided the main points of North Carolina's product liability laws in plain language below.

Statutes

North Carolina General Statutes Chapter 99B, Sections 1 - 12

Strict Liability? North Carolina courts don't recognize strict liability in product liability claims.
Potential Plaintiffs
  • Original purchaser;
  • Purchaser's family members;
  • Guests of the purchaser or their family members; or
  • Employees of the purchaser.
Defenses to Product Liability Claims
  1. Sealed Container - The seller received and sold the product in a sealed container and had no reason to suspect the product was defective.
  2. Product Alteration - A third party (neither the manufacturer nor the seller) altered the product; this is not a defense if the alteration was pursuant to manufacturer instructions.
  3. Contributory Negligence - The product was used contrary to instructions, the user knew it was defective but still used it, or the user failed to exercise reasonable care.
  4. No Opportunity to Warn - In a failure to warn claim, plaintiff must prove that the seller/manufacturer knew or should have known the risk but acted unreasonably in its failure to warn.
  5. Lack of Safer Alternative - In an inadequate design claim, plaintiff must prove that safer, more-reasonable alternatives existed.
  6. Open and Obvious Risk - The risk of injury was obvious but the plaintiff was careless.
Time Limits for Filing Lawsuits
Donated Food

Anyone who donates an item of food for use or distribution by a nonprofit organization shall not be liable for civil damages or criminal penalties resulting from the nature, age, condition, or packaging of the donated food, unless an injury is caused by the gross negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct of the donor.

Firearms

You can't bring a lawsuit against a firearm manufacturer unless the product was defective or the design was defective such that the firearm performed in a manner not expected and the defect or design caused the injury.

Breach of Warranty Claims

These are filed under a provision of the Uniform Commercial Code (Chapter 25, Article 2, Sections 601-616).

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.

Research the Law

  • North Carolina Law - Summaries of select state laws covering a wide variety of practice areas, including family, criminal, small business, injury, and consumer law.
  • Official State Codes - Links to the official online statutes (laws) in all 50 states and DC.

North Carolina Product Liability Laws: Related Resources

Filing a Product Liability Claim? Call a North Carolina Attorney Today

If you've been injured by a consumer product and have a valid claim for damages, you'll need to prove the seller or manufacturer was negligent under North Carolina's laws. This takes the skill and experience of a legal professional. Get started today and contact a North Carolina personal injury attorney near you.

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