Wrongful death lawsuits can be brought in North Carolina when one party’s negligence or wrongful action cause another person’s death. There are several cases where a wrongful death action may be brought:
- A car accident where a driver’s negligence causes the death of another driver
- A medical malpractice case where a doctor’s error results in a patient’s death
- A defective product case where a malfunctioning product causes a consumer’s death
There are two components of these cases:
- To bring a personal injury action that the deceased person could have brought had they lived.
- To bring an action on behalf of the surviving family members for their loss of a loved one.
Who Brings a Wrongful Death Action?
The personal representative of the deceased person’s estate brings the wrongful death lawsuit. They may be dealing with an insurance company, such as when a car accident caused the death and the other party had auto liability insurance. A lawsuit may be filed directly against the other party if there is no applicable insurance coverage.
Damages for Wrongful Death
The following types of damages may be sought in a North Carolina wrongful death case:
- Medical expenses related to the incident that the decedent incurred before death.
- Compensation for pain and suffering of the decedent.
- Funeral expenses.
- The present value of the dependent’s expected lifetime earnings.
- The value of services, care, companionship, comfort, guidance, and assistance that the decedent would have given to person entitled to recover damages.
- Punitive damages if malice or willful and wanton conduct caused the death.
The statute of limitations for a wrongful death lawsuit in North Carolina is typically two years from the date of the decedent’s death.
How Damages Are Distributed
If compensation is recovered, the damages will first go towards the cost of bringing the lawsuit and attorney fees, then to funeral expenses. Remaining funds will be distributed to heirs under North Carolina’s intestacy laws. This is true even when a will exists that controls how the dependent’s property is distributed. These funds can’t be used to satisfy other debts of the estate.
Consult a wrongful death attorney if you lost a loved due to someone else’s wrongful actions to learn more about your legal options.
Don’t miss out on your chance to seek compensation for serious injuries or the death of a loved one. Call King Law at 888-748-KING (5464) to request a consultation with a North Carolina personal injury attorney.