Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in North Carolina?
A wrongful death claim may arise when a person dies due to the fault of another person or entity. At Nagle & Associates, Raleigh wrongful death lawyer Carl Nagle offers compassionate representation to bereaved families. He diligently works to recover compensation on behalf of the victim’s legal beneficiaries. Our goal is to ensure that these beneficiaries, often a surviving spouse and children, are in the same or better financial position in which they would have been had their loved one survived. Our firm only handles motor vehicle accident case and Carl Nagle has successfully represented individuals and families in wrongful death cases throughout the state including Raleigh, Wilmington, Asheville, Winston-Salem, Charlotte and other North Carolina cities.
Bringing a Wrongful Death Claim in North Carolina
Wrongful death claims arise under statutory law and are governed by a two-year statute of limitations. In a typical personal injury case, the victim has three years from the accident date to file a lawsuit and thereby preserve their claims and legal rights. In fatal accident cases, the limitations period is just two years from the accident date. Failure to file your lawsuit before the second anniversary of the fatal accident results in a loss of all legal claims, and a forfeiture of the surviving family member’s wrongful death claims.
A wrongful death action resembles a personal injury claim in which the injured person cannot bring his or her case to court. To succeed in this type of action, North Carolina law requires showing that the defendant’s course of conduct, act, or omission was wrongful and violated a legal duty or standard of reasonable care. The defendant in a wrongful death action may have acted intentionally, but more often the defendant behaved negligently.
North Carolina law requires that the personal representative of the victim, who is known as either the Administrator or Executor, bring a wrongful death claim. The lawsuit seeks damages on behalf of the estate and the surviving family members. An Administrator files the claim if the victim did not have a valid will at the time of his or death. An Executor or Executrix is someone who would have been named in the will and is the title of the party who handles the estate for a person who died with a valid will in place. In some cases, the personal representative is a surviving spouse, parent, or adult child. If the victim died and did not leave any assets, a personal representative still must be appointed by the court in order for a wrongful death lawsuit to proceed.
The North Carolina Wrongful Death Act specifies the damages that may be recovered in a lawsuit for wrongful death. These include medical expenses, such as the costs of hospitalization, surgery, and hospice care. Pain and suffering that the deceased person endured before death also may be recovered, as well as reasonable funeral expenses.
The N.C. Wrongful Death Act also allows surviving family members to collect for all income that the decedent would have earned had the accident never occurred. Our law firm only handles traumatic injury cases, and we have handled many wrongful death claims involving large income loss claims. In these cases, we retain forensic accounting experts, vocational experts and economists and this team of experts will review the victim’s earning and employment history and then calculate with reasonable certainty the value of all income and benefits that the decedent would have earned if he or she had survived and worked until retirement. Assembling this evidence properly and then putting forth a valid threat of trial must occur before you can hope to secure a settlement that offers the full value for a fatal injury case.
In addition to medical and funeral costs, pre-death pain and suffering compensation and lost income, North Carolina law also allows the recovery of damages related tothe loss of the deceased person’s services, protection, and care. Moreover, punitive damages may be available if the death was caused by the defendant’s intentional conduct, malice, or willful or wanton misconduct.
Who Can Collect Money from a Wrongful Death Settlement?
Under the North Carolina Wrongful Death Act, the parties who can collect money damages following a fatal accident are the same family members who would receive an inheritance from the decedent if they had died without a will. Under the Resources tab of this website, the content of Carl Nagle’s book “North Carolina Auto Accident & Insurance Law” is provided in full. Essentially, the proceeds of a wrongful death settlement or trail award are divided between family members including the surviving spouse, surviving children, surviving parents of the decedent, and surviving siblings. For details about the priorities and shares for various family members, visit our Resources on this site or contact Mr. Nagle for a personal analysis of your family’s circumstances.
Consult a Compassionate Wrongful Death Lawyer in the Raleigh Area
If someone you loved suffered a wrongful death because another party was negligent, you may have a valid legal claim for compensation. Raleigh wrongful death attorney Carl Nagle can help you understand your legal rights during this difficult period. He has helped victims and their families in Raleigh, Winston-Salem, Wilmington, Asheville, Hickory, Charlotte, Greensboro, and other cities throughout Wake, Mecklenburg, Forsyth, Brunswick, Durham, Guilford, New Hanover, Cumberland, and Catawba Counties. Since our focus is on maximizing the recovery of our clients, our firm charges a reduced legal fee of 25% of the settlement, which is less than the 1/3 or 33.33% of settlement charged by other firms. Also, you pay nothing up front to hire us, we collect no legal fee unless we win your case and collect money for your family, and we can even meet with you at your home if a visit to our office is currently inconvenient. Please call us at (800) 411-1583 or use our online form for an immediate free consultation with a North Carolina car accident attorney.