Losing a loved one through the negligence of another person or entity can be hard to handle. While a wrongful death lawsuit can be hard, having an attorney on your side can make things easier. Not only can an attorney handle your investigation, but they can also recover funds to ensure you and your family financial stability. If you’re interested in seeking justice for your loved one, this blog will give you an insight into the wrongful death laws in North Carolina and how to go about filing a claim.
What is “wrongful death” in the state of North Carolina?
Wrongful death in North Carolina is defined as a death caused “by a wrongful act, neglect, or default of another” person or entity, which would have resulted in a personal injury claim had the victim survived (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 28A-18-2 (2021).).
How does one prove wrongful death?
The most common types of personal injury and wrongful death claims happen through medical malpractice, an intentional act, or negligence-based incidents like a car accident. To prove liability in a wrongful death case, a plaintiff must prove the following elements.
- Duty of Care — The plaintiff must prove that the other party owed a duty of care to the victim.
- Breach of Duty of Care — The plaintiff must prove that the other party breached that duty of care.
- Causation — The plaintiff must show that the other party’s actions led directly to the victim’s death.
Who can file a wrongful death claim?
Some states limit who can and cannot file a wrongful death lawsuit. In North Carolina, a claim can only be filed by a the executor identified in the will, or a Administrator of the Estate, identified by a court system through intestacy laws. Those who could be an administrator are usually:
- Surviving spouses
- Adult children
If you have a felon conviction, you are unqualified to serve as an administrator for your loved one
What types of damages are available?
Damages are the compensation the victim’s family receives after a successful lawsuit. This form of compensation can be available for various reasons, including economic and non-economic. According to North Carolina law, the following damages may be recoverable:
- Funeral expenses
- Medical bills
- Loss of income
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of protection
The state of North Carolina allows for punitive damages to be awarded. However, the point of punitive damages is to deter the defendant from their previous behavior that led to the death. Not everyone will be awarded the same damages, so if you’re interested in what you could potentially receive in a case, speak with a local legal professional.
An important note to keep in mind is that the person receiving the recovered funds does not have to be the Administrator.
What’s North Carolina’s Statute of Limitations?
According to the state, the statute of limitations in North Carolina for cases involving wrongful death is 2 years from the date of death. There are some exceptions to this rule, but it’s unlikely that a lawyer extends the deadline. If the deadline is coming up for you to file, speak with your local wrongful death attorney to hear your case before it’s too late.
What do I do if I suspect my loved one’s death was wrongful?
If you suspect that you may have a wrongful death claim on your hand, our North Carolina attorneys may be here to assist you. Grieving the loss of your loved one is hard enough. You shouldn’t have to deal with the pressure of losing a loved one and dealing with seeking justice on your own.
Before we get started with your case, it would benefit the Lanier Law Group team if you provided us with information like:
- Decedent’s birth (if available) and death certificate
- Decedent’s funeral and state income tax returns for the five years preceding their death
- Federal estate tax return filed in decedent’s estate
- The autopsy report of the decedent (if available)
Visit the wrongful death page on our website for the complete list of items that could help your case. Once you have gathered the necessary items that can help build your case, give our office a call today at (855) 757-4204 or fill out this form on our website for a consultation.