Raleigh Wrongful Death Lawyer
Wrongful death is one of the most devastating tragedies a family can experience. It is hard enough to accept the death of a loved one from natural or expected causes. It is something else entirely when a negligent, reckless, or criminal individual or company cuts a life short. Our lawyers understand the intense pain and confusion that can plague a family after a wrongful death. We are passionate about fighting for justice for those who can no longer fight for themselves. Contact us for a free legal consultation in Raleigh today.
Raleigh, North Carolina Wrongful Death Laws
A “wrongful death” according to North Carolina law is one that stems from someone else’s wrongful act, neglect, or default. Had the deceased victim survived the accident, he or she would have the right to file a personal injury claim. Since the accident was fatal, it is up to the decedent’s estate or personal representative (often surviving family members) to file a claim on behalf of the victim. To do so, one must obey the state’s wrongful death laws, including:
- Statute of limitations. Wrongful death claims have different deadlines for filing than standards personal injury lawsuits. Instead of having three years from the date of the accident, claimants have two years from the date of the victim’s death to bring a claim. Don’t miss the deadline, or else you could give up your right to recovery.
- Damages recoverable. The claimant can seek recovery for the decedent’s damages, which can include pain and suffering and lost income, as well as for the surviving family’s damages. A successful suit could result in payment for funeral and burial expenses, loss of the person’s services and companionship, and loss of consortium.
- Who can file. In North Carolina, family members cannot file wrongful death claims on their own. Instead, they must leave legal action to the deceased person’s estate. A personal representative must file the claim on behalf of the estate and the family. The decedent’s will or estate plan might appoint this person, or else we can help get a family member appointed with the clerk of court. We handle this task in most cases.
When a wrongful death claim is successful, compensation first goes to repaying the decedent’s estate for legal fees, funeral expenses, medical expenses and court costs. It then goes to surviving beneficiaries. Some cases may result in additional punitive damages if the death was the result of gross negligence, maliciousness, or intent to harm. Punitive damages aim to punish the defendant rather than to reimburse an estate or family.
What Damages Can I Claim for Wrongful Death Claims in North Carolina?
Wrongful death cases are already emotionally trying times for the family of the deceased. Trying to put a monetary value on the loss of a human life can only make the process more stressful. North Carolina law allows for the estate and family members of the deceased to recover multiple types of damages.
One type of recoverable damages includes those experienced by the deceased between the accident and the time of death. Often, these types of damages occur when there is not an immediate death following an accident, and can include medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages before the death. Funeral and burial expenses are also recoverable in a wrongful death case.
Another category of recoverable damages addresses the losses experienced by the deceased’s next of kin. Financial damages can be some of the most obvious to determine, especially when rewarding compensation to the deceased’s dependents. These damages can include the equivalent of the deceased’s future lost wages. Often this value accounts for what the deceased would have earned were it not for the untimely death.
Aside from financial losses, North Carolina also allows the immediate family members of the deceased to recover emotional damages. The law often refers to this emotional loss as loss of consortium, and it accounts for the deprivation of love and companionship the deceased would have otherwise provided. Spouses’ compensation may involve the loss of sexual intimacy, while dependent children will often receive compensation for the lack of parental support and guidance for their deceased parents.
In some cases, there may be additional punitive damages awarded by the court. Unlike other damages, which seek to help the loved ones of the deceased recover from losses, punitive damages seek to discourage the reckless behavior that led to the accident in the first place. However, courts rarely award punitive damages in civil lawsuits.
Every wrongful death case has its own unique circumstances involved, which can, in turn, impact the level of compensation you may receive from your claim. While understanding the financial impact of your loved one’s death may be easy, determining the appropriate amount for intangible damages, like loss of consortium and the deceased’s level of pain and suffering prior to death, can be much more difficult.
Having a skilled wrongful death attorney on your side can help properly determine your fair amount of compensation. While the process can still be stressful, the attorneys at Riddle & Brantley help make the process easier. Upon evaluating your case, we can help you determine the potential compensation for the loss of your loved one.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death
Any incidence that could give rise to a personal injury claim can also result in a wrongful death claim if the victim does not survive his or her injuries. Some acts of negligence and accident types are more commonly involved in wrongful death claims than others, however. If you lost a family member in one of the following circumstances, you likely have grounds for a lawsuit:
- Car accident
- Bicycle or pedestrian accident
- Trucking accident
- Fatal workplace accident
- Medical malpractice
- Dog bite or animal attack
- Slip, trip, and fall
- Violent act or criminal attack
- Swimming pool accident
Skilled and Compassionate Legal Representation for Raleigh Wrongful Death
A legal consultation with a Raleigh accident attorney at Riddle & Brantley can let you know whether you have the elements to file a wrongful death claim in Raleigh, North Carolina. One of our lead lawyers will listen to the story of how your loved one died, extend our deepest condolences, and then inform you of your rights and legal options during a confidential meeting. Schedule yours at no obligation through our online submission system. For those of you who live outside Raleigh, please contact our Jacksonville wrongful death attorneys & Goldsboro wrongful death lawyers.