Losing a loved one is devastating and you shouldn’t have to go through this alone. If you have lost a loved one due to the negligent actions of another entity or individual, you should seek assistance from a skilled Kernersville wrongful death lawyer.
Our wrongful death lawyers at McIver Law Firm will work diligently on your case and will never stop fighting until we get justice for your loved one. Call us today at 336-727-9886 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with our experienced personal injury lawyer.
How is Wrongful Death Defined in North Carolina?
North Carolina defines wrongful death as a death that occurs due to the wrongful actions, negligence, or intentional actions of another entity or individual. A wrongful death claim in the state can arise if the deceased would have been able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party if they had survived the incident.
How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim in North Carolina?
The deadline within which a wrongful death claim must either be filed or resolved before being barred from further action is known as the statute of limitations. In North Carolina, the statute of limitations in most cases involving wrongful death is 2 years from the date of death. That’s why you should talk to the Kernersville wrongful death lawyers at McIver Law Firm as soon as possible after your loved one’s death.
Who is Qualified to File a Wrongful Death Claim?
In North Carolina only the personal representative (executor) of the decedent’s estate is qualified to file a wrongful death claim. If the decedent left behind a will, he or she most likely named a personal representative there.
If the personal representative named in the will is unable or unwilling to serve, or if the decedent didn’t have an estate plan, the court usually appoints another individual. Surviving adult children, parents, or spouses are common choices of personal representative.
Can a Surviving Family Member File for Punitive Damages?
The Wrongful Death Act allows surviving family members to file for punitive damages if the victim would have recovered them had they survived. Punitive damages awarded in North Carolina, however, are capped at 3 times compensatory damages or $250,000, whichever is higher. The only exception to the punitive damages cap is if the person was killed in an accident involving a drunk driver.
How is Negligence Proven in a Wrongful Death Case?
Negligence is proven in wrongful death cases by proving these 4 elements:
I. Duty of Care
To win a wrongful death case, the plaintiff (you) must be able to demonstrate that the defendant owed you, the victim, a duty of care. For instance, a driver owes a duty of care to other road users to drive safely and adhere to traffic laws.
II. Breach of Duty of Care
If you can prove that a duty of care exists, you must provide evidence showing breach of that duty by the defendant. Using the above example, you might present evidence that the defendant was driving while intoxicated when he struck the decedent.
The next thing you need to prove is that the defendant’s breach of duty of care ultimately caused harm to the decedent. Using the same example from before, you would need to prove that it was actually the defendant’s vehicle that struck the decedent and not any other vehicle.
IV. Foreseeable Damages
Proving negligence is also contingent upon the foreseeable nature of damages incurred. If you are traveling at 110 mph in a 45 mph zone, it is, or should be, entirely foreseeable to the defendant that significant damages will take place if an accident occurs. Alternatively, if the damages were not predictable, even if all other conditions in this list are met, the defendant will most likely be found to not be liable for the plaintiff’s damages.
Finally, you will be required to prove that the deceased really did suffer damages. In wrongful death cases, if duty, breach of duty, as well as causation all exist, damages are automatically presumed because the injured person was killed.
To prove the 4 elements of negligence above, you can always count on the experienced Kernersville wrongful death lawyers at McIver Law Firm. Call us today at 336-727-9886 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation and case evaluation.
How Do You Start a Wrongful Death Claim in North Carolina?
To start a wrongful death claim, it’s strongly advised that you hire and retain an experienced Kernersville wrongful death attorney such as those at McIver Law Firm, who can help with the following important aspects:
- Building a Case: Our lawyers will build the strongest case by recovering evidence, preparing legal paperwork, and filing within the required deadlines.
- Negotiations: Our lawyers will also negotiate vigorously on your behalf to reach a settlement that ensures fair financial recovery.
- Preparing for Trial: Our legal team will also prepare the case for trial to ensure that surviving family members are treated fairly throughout the process.
- Trial: If we determine that it’s the best way to recover the full compensation you and your family deserve, we will take the case to trial.
What Types of Evidence Can Be Useful in a Wrongful Death Suit?
Different types of evidence can be useful in a wrongful death suit such as:
The death certificate notes the precise time and date of death and clearly mentions the cause of death, such as a construction accident or road accident. The coroner verifies the certificate and it’s an essential piece of evidence in any wrongful death case.
Deceased’s Medical Records
The decedent’s medical records are a critical piece of evidence in a wrongful death suit. By reviewing the medical records, it’s possible to confirm that the decedent’s injuries are directly connected to the actions of the negligent party. The records also highlight medical expenses and hospitalizations.
Police and Autopsy Reports
If the police had examined the circumstances of the decedent’s death, a report would have been written in connection with the inquiry. If what caused the death was less obvious, the autopsy report can highlight what actually caused it. Both the police and autopsy reports are critical pieces of evidence.
It’s a category that’s broad enough to encompass a wide variety of different kinds of evidence. For example, items of clothing that have blood stains could demonstrate where and how on the body the victim was injured in a fall or accident.
The value of a wrongful death claim can be determined using financial documents such as tax returns and pay stubs. The documents can show how much money the decedent made, and the amount of lost wages and income can subsequently be factored into the claim.
What is the Difference Between a Wrongful Death Claim and an Estate Claim?
A wrongful death claim is typically filed when the beneficiaries of the deceased are looking to recover compensation for harm suffered as a result of the death. In most instances, the person filing a wrongful death claim would be the decedent’s children, surviving spouse, parents, or any other person legally financially dependent on the deceased.
An estate claim is also known as a survival action and is targeted in such a way that the decedent’s surviving family members would be compensated for any damages the decedent would have recovered had they survived and been eligible to file their own personal injury lawsuit. This type of claim is typically filed by the executor of the decedent’s estate.
Are You Seeking Compensation for Your Loved One’s Death? A Kernersville Wrongful Death Lawyer Can Help!
If you have experienced the unfortunate trauma associated with losing a loved one, the experienced and compassionate wrongful death lawyers at McIver Law Firm in Kernersville, NC are here for you.
We will handle the paperwork, negotiations, and litigation while you focus on the grieving process. Call us today at 336-727-9886 to schedule a free, no obligation, confidential consultation and case evaluation.