If you have been injured in an accident due to another party’s negligence, you can pursue a personal injury claim against them to receive compensation for your injuries and losses. But what happens if a victim dies after the accident? In this case, their loved ones can seek justice by filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the guilty party.
The law of North Carolina describes a wrongful death action as a case in which the death of the victim is caused by someone else’s fault, negligence or wrongful acts. In such a situation, the family of the deceased can file for monetary compensation.
It’s true that no compensation can make up for the wrongful death of a loved one, but it can provide the family of the victim a sense of closure and financial security that the deceased would have provided otherwise.
At the Law Office of Jason E. Taylor P.C., we practice extensively in wrongful death claims. We have an experienced team of North Carolina and South Carolina wrongful death lawyers who can provide you with quality legal guidance and assistance. Our goal is to help our clients seek justice and make the entire claim filing process simple, smooth and stress-free.
When it comes to wrongful death claims, many families don’t know how it works and its benefits. Therefore, we have created a guide to help you develop a good understanding of wrongful death lawsuits in North Carolina and then proceed with your claim confidently.
How Wrongful Death Lawsuits Work
A wrongful death lawsuit in North Carolina is a civil case. This means that the defendant’s liability is limited to financial compensation. In other words, the liability is solely expressed in monetary damages and not imprisonment.
However, it is important to understand that both civil and criminal cases in North Carolina are not mutually exclusive. To put it in another way, civil cases can be filed in addition to an ongoing and corresponding criminal case. In such a situation, the criminal justice system can assign different penalties to the party at-fault, such as fines and jail time.
Who Can File the Case?
A wrongful death claim can only be filed by the individual designated as the personal representative of the deceased. For example, if the decedent had a will, then the executor mentioned in the will is the personal representative. However, if the deceased did not have a will, then the personal representative shall be the person who qualifies as the estate administrator under the intestate succession laws.
Who are Wrongful Death Claim Beneficiaries?
Proceeds can be received only by those who qualify under the intestate succession laws. However, if the deceased had a will, then the beneficiaries of the will qualify for the wrongful death lawsuit claim amount.
Requirements—What Do You Need to Prove?
In a wrongful death case, the plaintiff needs to prove two things in order to get compensated. These are:
1. Prove that the other party is the cause-in-fact of the victim’s demise
Here, the plaintiff must provide adequate evidence that shows that the defendant is liable for the death of the victim.
2. Prove proximate cause
This is slightly difficult to prove. The second requirement for pursuing a wrongful death claim focuses on proving proximate cause. Simply put, the plaintiff must prove that the death of the victim was a foreseeable result of the negligent party’s (defendant) action. Thus, the defendant should be held responsible.
Statute of Limitations for Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in North Carolina
If you wish to pursue a wrongful death claim in North Carolina, then it should be filed within two years from the date of the victim’s death. If you fail to file a claim within this time period, then the court may refuse to hear it altogether and you may not be compensated.
However, there are certain exceptions and situations in which the statute of limitations can extend for a wrongful death case. Therefore, it is advisable that you speak to our experienced wrongful death lawyer to determine how the statute of limitations applies to your case.
Recoverable Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim
In legal terminology, damages refer to the monetary compensation that the plaintiff of a wrongful death claim receives. The possible recoverable damages in a wrongful death case include the following:
- Funeral and burial expenses of the deceased.
- Medical expenses (such as surgery, hospitalization, pharmacy, rehabilitation or hospice care) incurred while the treatment for the injured victim (who has deceased now) was underway.
- Compensation for the suffering and pain caused by the death of the victim.
- Net income of the deceased.
- The present monetary value of the deceased to the beneficiaries.
- Loss of the decedent’s services, care, companionship, protection and guidance.
In some wrongful death cases, punitive damages may also be rewarded. Unlike monetary compensation, punitive damages are not intended to repay the plaintiff. The purpose of punitive damages is to punish the conduct of the defendant for their negligence that led to the death of the victim. Furthermore, it also warns similarly placed people in the society that such conduct will not be tolerated.
So, if you have lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence in North Carolina, then get in touch with us now. Discuss your case with us. At the Law Office of Jason E. Taylor P.C., our lawyer will review your case and determine whether or not your case can be filed in North Carolina as a wrongful death action and what your next steps should be. Our team of North Carolina and South Carolina wrongful death lawyers have extensive experience in handling wrongful death lawsuits. We are here to stand up for the victims of negligence and help their families fight for justice.