Are you grieving the loss of a loved one who passed away due to the negligent actions of someone else? While your emotional loss is irreparable, you may be able to hold the at-fault party legally responsible for their reckless actions that caused the death of your loved one.
People who experience the wrongful death of an immediate family member often end up with considerable debt due to funeral costs and medical bills alone. If the person who died was a key breadwinner, the family also loses an important part of the household income they all relied on.
In North Carolina, when a person dies as a result of willful misconduct, negligence, or recklessness of another party’s action, the deceased’s personal representative could be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
The wrongful death attorneys at Tatum & Atkinson, PLLC – The Heavy Hitters® understand what you are going through and would like to offer our assistance. We will do everything within the ambit of law to help you recover maximum financial damages, while you focus on healing from your deep loss.
If you are not sure whether you are eligible to file a wrongful death claim in North Carolina on your loved one’s behalf, please call us at 800-529-0804 or fill out this short form. We offer free initial consultation to the families of wrongful death victims in North Carolina.
Let us look at some of the important aspects of a wrongful death case in North Carolina, including who can file the claim, what’s the time limit, and what kind of damages are available if the claim succeeds.
“Wrongful death” is defined as a death that was caused by the neglect, wrongful act, or default of another party, be it a person or an entity. In North Carolina, this lawsuit is essentially a type of personal injury claim that the victim would have been able to file, if they had survived. However, since the injured victim is deceased and can, obviously, no longer bring their own case to court, another party on their behalf can do so.
Every state has its own guidelines as to who can bring the wrongful death action. In North Carolina, only the “executor” or personal representative of the deceased individual’s estate may file the claim in court.
If the deceased person had a will, they most likely named a personal representative there. Parents, surviving spouses, or adult children are almost always the personal representatives of the deceased. In case the deceased had no estate plan, or their personal representative specified in the will can’t or won’t serve, the court will appoint another person.
The personal representative of the deceased – as named in the will – is tasked by the court to manage the latter’s affairs. If the deceased did not name anyone in the will, the court will usually choose one from their immediate or extended family.
The remainder is distributed to surviving members in accordance with the intestacy rules of North Carolina law. This means that the surviving spouse will receive the entire amount recovered in the lawsuit, unless the deceased person’s children and parents are also in the picture. In this case, their share will be determined based on the amount recovered and the circumstances of the case itself.
Without the expert guidance of a skilled attorney, it can be challenging for families to maneuver through these complex matters.
If you bring a wrongful death lawsuit against someone, and your claim is successful, the NC court will order the defendant to pay certain “damages” to you. These may include:
If the court finds that the death was caused by “willful or malice or wanton conduct”, the defendant can also be ordered to pay punitive damages—rare but something we always go after if the case warrants it.
In North Carolina, you have 2 years to file a wrongful death lawsuit from the date of the death. If you fail to bring the lawsuit within this time, the NC court will most likely dismiss your case. It won’t matter how strong your claim is, once the statute passes, you will lose your right to recover compensation.
There are some exceptions to this two-year rule. For example, if the child of a deceased parent was a minor at the time of the death, the said child may be able to file the lawsuit once they turn 18 years old.
If the surviving member is physically or mentally impaired in a way that prevents them from handling their own affairs, or if it’s a case of long-term medical negligence, the statute of limitations can be extended.
This is a complicated subject, so consider talking to an experienced attorney who can give you a more accurate estimation based on your circumstances. However, the sooner you start the process, the more likely your attorney will be able to gather crucial evidence and documents before they are lost forever.
This is why it’s so important to get in touch with an attorney immediately, if you even suspect that your loved one’s death is a result of someone’s careless conduct. We understand that talking to a lawyer might be the last thing on your mind at the moment, but securing your financial future is critical especially if you have children.
It goes without saying that in order to obtain financial damages your wrongful death attorney must prove that your loved one’s death was caused by the negligent party’s actions. You will need solid evidence to show to the court what happened and exactly how the other party is responsible for it.
These types of evidence can prove to be extremely useful in these cases:
A wrongful death claim involves an intricate legal process in North Carolina. You have to collect several documents to establish your claim, including medical records, incident reports, photographs, and even employment histories in some cases. In many cases, you must work with expert witnesses as well. To maximize your chances of obtaining the compensation that you rightfully deserve, relying on the experience and skill of a seasoned personal injury attorney is necessary.
At Tatum & Atkinson, PLLC – The Heavy Hitters®, we are well-versed with handling wrongful death cases in North Carolina. We will work diligently to pursue and win the maximum possible compensatory award that best acknowledges the value of your loved one’s life. We know that no monetary compensation will ever be able to undo this tragic loss, but we can help relieve the financial burden you face and offer your family with much-needed comfort and financial security.
Call us today at 800-529-0804 or send us a message online to schedule your free case consultation.