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What is the Statute of Limitations on Wrongful Death in North Carolina?

Anytime a person loses their life due to the careless, negligent, or intentional actions of another individual or entity in North Carolina, it may be possible for the personal representative or the executor of the deceased’s estate to file a civil wrongful death lawsuit. However, it is crucial for family members and the personal representative of the estate to understand the timeframes in place for filing these claims.

Time Limit for Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in North Carolina

Just like personal injury lawsuits, wrongful death claims must be filed within a certain timeframe in order for the case to be successful. In North Carolina, wrongful death claims must be filed within two years from the date of a person’s death. If the personal representative or executor of the estate fails to file a lawsuit within this two-year timeframe, it is likely that the case will be dismissed by a judge, and the estate and family members will be unable to recover any type of compensation for their losses.

One important aspect to keep in mind is that many wrongful death claims are resolved through settlements with insurance carriers. This can include car insurance carriers, homeowners insurance carriers, commercial business insurance carriers, or some other type of insurance policy. Insurance carriers have their own deadlines in place when it comes to reporting wrongful death claims. If there is an insurance carrier involved in your loved one’s death, we encourage you to file the claim as soon as possible to avoid a denial.

What is Wrongful Death in NC?

The state of North Carolina defines wrongful death claims as deaths that occur as a result of negligence, wrongful actions, or intentional actions of another individual or entity. The law goes on to state that a wrongful death claim can arise if the deceased would have been able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party had they survived the incident (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 28A-18-2 (2021).

Wrongful death claims arise in a wide variety of ways throughout this state. This includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Car accidents
  • Commercial truck accidents
  • Pedestrian or bicycle accidents
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Defective product incidents
  • Premises liability incidents
  • Dog or animal attacks
  • Medical malpractice
  • Intentional acts of violence (shootings, stabbings, assaults)

There is a big difference between civil wrongful death claims and criminal cases in court. If a person loses their life as a result of the intentional actions of another individual, then prosecutors are responsible for filing criminal charges against the alleged perpetrator. Wrongful death claims take place in civil court, and they are filed by the personal representative of the deceased’s estate. It is entirely possible to have a criminal case as well as a civil wrongful death claim against the same person. However, there does not necessarily need to be a criminal case against an individual for them to face a wrongful death claim in civil court.

We strongly encourage you to work with a skilled wonderful death attorney in Raleigh, NC as soon as possible. An attorney will make sure that your claim is investigated properly and filed on time so that you have the best chance of recovering compensation for your losses.