The loss of a loved one can be one of the most devastating experiences of your life, especially if that loss was due to the negligent or intentional actions of another person. After you have grieved the loss, questions often arise about how to handle the financial burden left behind.
Wrongful death lawsuits cannot bring back your family member, but compensation from the claim can help the victim’s loved ones and hold those accountable for the loss monetarily responsible for their actions.
At Dawson & Albritton, we have helped clients navigate the legal filings of a wrongful death lawsuit and can help your family get the compensation they deserve.
What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Under North Carolina law, wrongful death is defined as the loss of life caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another.
Similar to a personal injury case, a lawsuit can be brought against the party responsible for damages, except that in a wrongful death case the lawsuit is brought by a personal representative of the victim’s estate. A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil lawsuit, which means that the lawsuit can be filed even if criminal charges have not been filed yet or if the criminal case has not gone to court.
A personal representative must file the wrongful death lawsuit in North Carolina which can seek damages for both the estate of the victim and the victim’s surviving family members. If the victim had an estate plan, there may be a personal representative listed for situations such as this. A family member can also volunteer to serve as the representative but must be approved by the court.
If there is no estate plan, the court can appoint an individual to serve as the representative. This is typically a close family member, such as a spouse, parent, or adult child.
What is the Statute of Limitations in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in North Carolina?
The statute of limitations is the amount of time that the personal representative of a victim’s estate has to file a lawsuit for compensation with the court. In North Carolina, the law limits the filing of a claim to two years from the date of the victims’ death. If the lawsuit is not filed within this time period, the court can throw it out and the victim’s estate is barred from collecting damages for the loss of life.
How Do Wrongful Death Cases Commonly Occur in North Carolina?
Wrongful death cases can arise from any accident or intentional action where a victim dies.
The most common occurrence of wrongful death is in car accident cases. This includes car, truck, motorcycle, bicycle, pedestrian, and commercial vehicle accidents where the negligence of one driver causes the death of another. Thousands of people die every year in North Carolina because of negligence in auto accidents.
Another common cause of wrongful death is medical malpractice. When medical professionals fail to provide the required standard of care to a patient and that patient dies as a result, the family has a claim for medical malpractice.
Fatal work accidents are another common cause of wrongful death lawsuits in North Carolina. Illnesses from unsafe work environments, hazardous working conditions, faulty equipment, improper training, and machine-related accidents cause a number of wrongful death claims annually.
Wrongful death lawsuits also arise from the faulty design, manufacture, or failure to warn consumers about a dangerous product. Known as products liability, dangerous consumer products kill a number of unsuspecting people every year and lead to wrongful death lawsuits.
Finally, the intentional acts of another person unfortunately cause a number of wrongful death cases in North Carolina. This includes death resulting from a violent act, such as a robbery or sexual assault, or other criminal activity where your loved one was the unfortunate victim of harm.
Compensation for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Damages in a wrongful death lawsuit can include compensation for economic and noneconomic losses.
Economic losses include:
- the cost of any final medical expenses,
- lost wages,
- loss of future income and benefits,
- and reasonable funeral and burial expenses
Noneconomic losses include:
- pain and suffering,
- emotional distress,
- loss of the victim’s services, protection, care, and assistance
- and the loss of society, companionship, comfort, guidance, and advice.
In the most egregious cases of wrongful death, the court may also award punitive damages for the loss. Punitive damages are included in addition to the economic and noneconomic damages of a wrongful death case, and they are meant to punish the wrongdoer for their actions as well as serve as a deterrent to others who may consider pursuing the same actions that led to your loved one’s death.
How Can a Wrongful Death Lawyer Help?
Wrongful death lawyers can help you and your family in a number of different ways.
First and foremost, a lawyer can handle the legal case so that you have the proper time to grieve the loss of your loved one. An attorney takes away the stress and confusion of navigating a complex legal case so you don’t have to. A lawyer also understands the procedural aspects of a wrongful death lawsuit, such as the statute of limitations, so you know that everything is being filed and represented properly in court.
In many cases, a wrongful death lawsuit is settled before it ever goes to trial, and a lawyer can handle negotiations with the party at fault to reach a settlement that is full and fair for your loss. If a settlement cannot be reached, a wrongful death attorney can take your case to trial and present the best possible arguments as to why your family deserves to be compensated for your loss.
As dedicated attorneys, we have helped victims secure compensation after their accidents. A few of our successful case results include the following:
- $225,000 to a pregnant client who presented to the hospital with preeclampsia and elevated blood pressure eventually causing death; and
- $895,000 for wrongful death of a man laying pipe when the trench walls collapsed around him.
The success we have had with our clients is also reflected in the testimonials that we receive, including the following:
“Harry Albritton is an excellent lawyer. He is motivated and stays on top of everything. He was always calm and collected and made me feel at ease. I had a very complicated case and he worked very hard to win our case. We got more than we expected and we owe it to Harry. He was a pleasure to work with and I would recommend him to everyone!” – Jenna Nicole Pope
Contact Our Office Today
Although a human life can never be truly replaced, seeking compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit can help your family financially in the aftermath of a fatal accident and begin the healing process. If you would like to file a wrongful death lawsuit in the Greenville area, call or contact Dawson & Albritton today to schedule a free consultation of your case with experienced wrongful death lawyers.