What Are North Carolina’s Wrongful Death Laws?

wrongful death-laws-NC

If you lose a loved one due to the negligence of another person or entity, you can seek damages with the help of a Charlotte wrongful death lawyer. In such a case, you have the option of filing a wrongful death claim against the liable party. If the liable party refuses to honor the claim, you can then file a civil action lawsuit in order to recover a fair settlement for the dependents of the deceased.

When filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Charlotte, it is important to know the relevant North Carolina laws that apply. Here is a look at the relevant laws and requirements of the state when it comes to wrongful death claims and lawsuits.

What is Wrongful Death?

Not all incidental deaths can be considered wrongful. North Carolina has a legal definition of what constitutes a wrongful death. In the North Carolina Statutes section 28A-18-2, wrongful death is defined as death which occurs due to the ‘wrongful act, neglect, or default of another, such as would, if the injured person had lived, have entitled the injured person to an action for damages.’

So an easy way to determine whether a particular case qualifies as wrongful death is to judge whether the deceased could have sought damages for his or her injuries had the death not occurred.

Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations is a legal period within which a claim must be filed. This period varies from one state to another. For wrongful death lawsuits, North Carolina has a two-year statute of limitations in place. This means that you must file the lawsuit within two years from the date of death of the deceased.

There are some factors which may cause the legal deadline for a particular wrongful death claim to be extended. This is particularly when the cause of death is discovered at a later stage. However, it is best to consult a lawyer to know whether an extension in deadline applies to your wrongful death claim.

It is critically important to follow the statute of limitations when filing the claim. If you file the claim after the statute has expired, the defendant will almost certainly point out the expiry of the statute upon which the court will be obliged to discard the lawsuit.

Who Can File the Wrongful Death Claim?

The personal representative of the deceased person’s estate is legally authorized to file the wrongful death claim on behalf of the deceased. It is also possible for another person to serve as the claimant if the deceased person named him as the executor of the will.

If the representative of the estate does not want to act as executor and the deceased person named no executor in the will, it is then up to the court to appoint an executor. In situations like this, the executor may be the spouse, children, parents, or other eligible relatives of the deceased.

Who Are the Beneficiaries?

The actual beneficiaries of a wrongful death lawsuit vary from one case to another. In general, North Carolina law allows a person to be eligible as a beneficiary if it can be shown that the person was related to the deceased and was also financially dependent on him or her. In this way, the spouse, parents, children, stepchildren, siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, and any other persons mentioned as heirs of the deceased can be eligible for the damages recovered in the lawsuit.

If a lawsuit is successful and damages are awarded, the executor of the estate or the person who filed the claim is responsible for disbursing the damages in a fair manner. If the beneficiaries can’t agree on a distribution formula, the court may intervene and determine what amount of damages shall go to each beneficiary.

What Damages Are Recoverable?

As per the state laws, the damages recoverable in a wrongful death lawsuit include:

  • Pre-death medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering compensation
  • Funeral expenses
  • Monetary amount reflecting the value of the decedent to the eligible beneficiaries
  • Punitive damages
  • Nominal damages

Hiring a Reliable Charlotte Personal Injury Lawyer

The loss of a loved one is a daunting experience. And this loss is all the more painful when it is sudden and caused by the negligence of another party. Here at Ted Greve & Associates, we believe that the liable party in such a case must be held accountable and the survivors entitled to the maximum compensation. Call us today to discuss your case and hire our compassionate legal services.