Defining wrongful death in North Carolina

| Mar 9, 2021 | Blog |

After losing a member in a tragic accident, many families find that financial matters fall by the wayside. When another party’s negligence caused the fatal incident, the survivors can potentially file a legal claim for burial expenses, lost wages and other costs. 

These are the basic guidelines that govern wrongful death lawsuits in North Carolina. 

Available damages

North Carolina courts may award wrongful death damages for funeral expenses, the deceased person’s pain and suffering, his or her final medical expenses, and compensation for the family’s loss of the person’s advice, guidance, comfort, companionship, care, services, protection, assistance and income. 

In cases in which the deceased person could have recovered punitive damages, the judge can include those as well. 

Legal process

When the deceased person had a will and named an executor or personal representative, this person can file a North Carolina wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the family. When he or she did not have a will, the court can appoint a surviving spouse, parent or adult child. 

After the court settles the wrongful death case, the personal representative can cover legal costs, bills and taxes of the estate. The remaining financial award goes to the deceased person’s surviving family members. 

Examples of incidents that can result in a wrongful death claim include at-fault auto accidents, falls on hazardous premises and fatalities resulting from criminal actions. If negligence occurred, North Carolina families have two years to file a lawsuit after the date of death. The court will not honor claims filed after the statute of limitations. 

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