Losing a loved one is never easy, but finding out that they were killed because of someone else's negligent actions can make the death—and subsequent grief—even harder to bear. Oftentimes, the death of a loved one has more than just emotional ramifications for surviving family members. Survivors may find themselves burdened by financial worries related to the loss of their loved one's income, at a time when they should be able to focus on grieving and laying the dead to rest.
If someone you love was killed in a personal injury accident caused by another person or entity's negligence, you may have grounds for a wrongful death claim.
At Shane Smith Law, we understand that your family is going through a particularly difficult time. We're here for you—and we understand that no amount of financial compensation can make up for the loss of your beloved family member. While moving forward with a wrongful death claim can't bring your loved one back, it can ensure that you and your family are taken care of financially, just as your loved one would have wanted.
Are you considering filing a wrongful death claim in North Carolina? Here's what you need to know.
Common Types of Wrongful Death Claims
Any time a loved one dies suddenly and unexpectedly, it can feel “wrong.” However, to be considered a “wrongful death,” the death in question must include some degree of negligence on the part of someone else or, as defined in North Carolina Statutes section 28A-18-2, be caused “by a wrongful act, neglect, or default of another.” Examples of common personal injury scenarios in which wrongful deaths can occur include:
- Auto accidents caused by a drunk or otherwise negligent driver
- Truck accidents caused by truckers or trucking companies who violate safety regulations
- Pedestrian accidents caused by distracted, reckless, or drunk drivers
- Slips and falls caused by inadequate maintenance
- Assaults caused by negligent security
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Case in North Carolina?
North Carolina law limits the right to file a wrongful death claim to the representative of the decedent's estate. Unfortunately, not everyone dies with their final wishes clearly outlined. In the absence of an estate plan that names the decedent's choice of personal representative, the court can appoint someone. The court can also appoint a personal representative if the person named in an estate plan is unable or unwilling to take on the role. Depending on the circumstances, the court may choose to appoint a surviving spouse, parent or adult child to serve as personal representative. The personal representative files the wrongful death claim to pursue compensation on behalf of the estate and surviving family members. A knowledgeable wrongful death attorney can offer advice regarding who might be eligible to collect damages in your case.
Damages Available in Wrongful Death Cases
The damages available in wrongful death cases are similar to those available in other types of personal injury cases. In many ways, a wrongful death claim is similar to a personal injury claim, except, instead of being filed by the victim, a wrongful death claim is followed by a personal representative on behalf of the decedent and their family.
Wrongful death claimants can pursue compensation for injuries and losses their loved one sustained prior to their untimely death, as well as losses the surviving family members incurred as a result of that death. Available damages may include:
- Accident-related medical expenses incurred by the decedent prior to death
- The decedent's pain and suffering
- Reasonable funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of the decedent's income
- Loss of the decedent's protection, care and benefits
- Loss of the decedent's love and companionship
- And more.
Our Firm Can Help You Seek Justice and Compensation After a Loved One's Wrongful Death
If you lost a loved one because of someone else's negligence, you may be entitled to compensation, but you must act quickly. North Carolina only gives wrongful death claimants three years from the date of their loved one's death to take legal action. To learn more, contact Shane Smith Law today to schedule a free initial consultation.