The loss of a loved one is never easy. If someone is to blame for your loss, you may consider filing a lawsuit.
In North Carolina, when a person dies due to another’s negligence, you may be able to bring a wrongful death case.
A wrongful death claim in North Carolina allows impacted family members to seek meaningful compensation to help them deal with the financial hardship of the death of a loved one.
Plus, it provides the family with some justice. You may like to know who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in North Carolina.
If you are considering filing a case, our attorneys are happy to walk you through the process and help you understand how to file a wrongful death lawsuit. We can form a legal strategy that fits the circumstances of your case.
What is Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death in North Carolina is a death caused “by a wrongful act, neglect, or default of another” person or entity.
If the victim had lived, they could have filed their own personal injury lawsuit. Because they did not survive, someone else must bring the case for their losses and the losses of the remaining family members.
Common Types of Wrongful Death Cases
Unfortunately, there are many causes of wrongful deaths. These are some of the most common:
- Vehicle accidents,
- Product malfunctions,
- Workplace accidents,
- Pedestrian accidents,
- Bicycle accidents,
- Medical malpractice, and
- Slip-and-fall accidents.
The circumstances of your claim do not have to fall into one of these categories to be a valid wrongful death claim.
Your attorney can determine if filing a suit for wrongful death is appropriate according to your particular situation.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Unfortunately, not every family member can file a wrongful death lawsuit. In North Carolina, the case must be brought by the deceased person’s estate.
That means the decedent’s personal representative is responsible for the lawsuit. This person is usually the administrator or executor of the estate.
If there is no will naming an executor or no estate after the person’s death, the decedent’s family can petition the court to appoint a personal representative to file a wrongful death case.
How Long Can a Wrongful Death Claim Take?
How long a wrongful death lawsuit may take is specific to the circumstances of your claim, including the parties involved.
In some situations, your attorney may help you negotiate a fair settlement without litigation. Some people quickly accept settlement offers because they fear the case will take too long, only to regret it later.
Discussing the value of your claim with an experienced attorney before accepting an offer is important. You cannot go back later and ask for more.
Your attorney may advise filing a lawsuit if a fair settlement cannot be reached. A lawsuit could take months or years, depending on the circumstances. It may involve:
- Preparing court filings,
- Serving court papers,
- Attendance at court dates,
- Exchanging documents between the parties,
- Taking and defending depositions, and
- Settlement negotiations.
If the parties can’t reach an agreement, the case will go to trial. There, a judge or jury will decide on liability and compensation.
How Long Do You Have to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
However, don’t wait until the last minute to hire a lawyer to pursue a wrongful death case.
The sooner you bring in legal counsel to investigate your case, the easier it will be to obtain the necessary evidence to build your case.
Over time, evidence can be lost or misplaced, and witnesses can be more difficult to track down.
One of the most challenging things is that you may still be in the midst of the grieving process when you have to move forward with your claim.
That is one of the reasons that having compassionate legal counsel makes a real difference in the process.
At Mehta & McConnell, we understand that you are going through a challenging time, and we are committed to making the legal process as easy as possible.
What Damages Are Available in a North Carolina Wrongful Death Case?
No amount of money can ever make up for the loss of your loved one, but legal compensation is a form of justice. Certain losses are compensable.
In North Carolina, these include damages the deceased could have brought a claim for if they had lived. They are now transferred to the estate.
Wrongful death damages also include the impact the death has on surviving dependents.
Any medical expenses related to the injury or illness that caused the death is compensable.
This includes if the deceased had emergency care, follow-up visits, surgery, physical therapy, medication, at-home care, or medical equipment before they died.
Loss of Income
If the deceased was a primary financial provider in the family, the family’s loss is both emotionally and financially devastating.
Loss of income damages include the deceased’s salary and earning potential. It also consists of the degree to which the surviving family members rely on that income.
Funeral and Burial Expenses
You may include reasonable funeral and burial expenses in a wrongful death claim for damages. These expenses are indeed unexpected. Thus, the law provides that the liable party should be responsible for them.
Pain and Suffering
In North Carolina, the victim’s pain and suffering before death are compensable. Pain and suffering damages also include other components of the person’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
For example, if the deceased experienced anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress before they died, the lawsuit can include a claim for pain and suffering damages.
The loss of a loved one can have so many harsh implications. It also means the loss of their guidance, protection, assistance, companionship, advice, and so much more that is completely irreplaceable.
These damages vary depending on the surviving family’s relationship with the deceased person.
Contact a North Carolina Wrongful Death Attorney in Our Office
Mehta & McConnell are here to provide compassionate and thorough representation for your family in this difficult time.
We can help you determine who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in your situation and how to get the compensation you deserve.