Wrongful Death Claims
If someone loses their life due to the negligence of another party, then the personal representative of that person may be able to seek compensation through a wrongful death claim.
Who Is The Personal Representative?
A personal representative is the only person who can file a wrongful death lawsuit when someone has passed away in North Carolina. This is usually the executor or administrator of the victim’s will, though if the victim did not leave a will behind, then a personal representative will be appointed by the court. This is usually a close family member or personal friend. For minors, the parent is usually the personal representative.
The personal representative, as defined by North Carolina law, is the person who distributes any award that is granted with a wrongful death claim. The representative must fairly allocate the award to claimants for the funeral, burial, and medical expenses of the victim. Wrongful death claims occur in auto accidents, product liability claims, industrial accidents, railroad, accidents, medical malpractice cases, and more.
Proving a Wrongful Death Case
The first step in proving a wrongful death case is to establish liability, demonstrating that the at-fault party was negligent. You do this by proving that he or she had a responsibility to act responsibly to prevent injuries, that he or she failed to act responsibly in that capacity, and the irresponsible action or lack thereof is the cause of the death of the victim.
The statute of limitations on wrongful death claims in North Carolina is two years. If you do not file a lawsuit for wrongful death within two years of the date of death, then you will lose your right to do so and will not be able to seek compensation in the future.
Types of Damages in Wrongful Death Cases
There are many different types of damages that you can seek when you file a wrongful death lawsuit. The personal representative who files the claim and seek damages for lost income, lost service and affection to the descendants, expenses for medical treatment and funeral costs, mental anguish, loss of support, and loss of consortium.
While intangible damages like loss of support and consortium can be difficult to quantify, the court will attempt to establish an amount that is fair and just based on the evidence prevented and the length and depth of the relationships affected.
When you recover damages in a wrongful death case in North Carolina, those damages will first be used to cover financial obligations like attorney’s fees, burial expenses, and medical costs. Next, the surviving spouse and children of the victim will receive payments. If there is no surviving spouse or child, then the parents and siblings of the victim receive the payments. If there is a surviving spouse, but there are no children, then the award will be split between the surviving spouse and the parents of the victim. The personal representative will distribute these damages.