The North Carolina General Assembly recently acted to clarify the statute of limitations and statute of repose applicable to actions against land surveyors. Once upon a time, the General Assembly enacted two limitations periods for land surveyors, a 10-year (N.C.G.S. § 1-47(6)) and a 3-year (N.C.G.S. § 1-52(18)), which created substantial confusion amongst land surveyors and litigators alike. The position taken by some was that the General Assembly intended a 3-year statute of limitations and 10-year statute of repose; however, courts would later determine that the applicable limitations period was 10 years. Applying the cannons of statutory construction, the courts would hold that because the 10-year limitation period was more specific, it controlled effectively rendering the 3-year statute obsolete.
Now, the General Assembly has confirmed its intention that the 10-year statute act as a statute of repose (running from the last act) and the 3-year statute act as a statute of limitations (accruing at the time of the damage). To correct the courts’ interpretation, and make plain its intention, the General Assembly removed subsection (6) from N.C.G.S. § 1-47(6). It also revised N.C.G.S. § 1-52 imposing a 7-year (not 10) statute of repose against professional surveyors. Now, any person with a negligence claim against a surveyor will have to bring the claim within 3 years of discovering the physical damage, economic, or monetary loss to the property. But that’s not all, claims must also be brought within 7 years of the last act giving rise to the cause of action to be timely.
Land surveyors and property owners alike need to be aware of these two separate time clocks. Not all damage stemming from land surveyor negligence occurs immediately or is immediately discoverable. Keeping accurate records of the date when performing work or having work performed may help to keep you protected in the future.
With attorneys licensed in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, Anderson Jones can help you and your business navigate this law or any other construction-related legal issue. Contact our legal team at (919) 277-2541 or by email for more information.