This North Carolina
Personal Injury Law Firm
Won’t Back Down.
c-img c-img-inner

Wrongful Death Lawyer in Southern Pines

Seeking Accountability and Justice for Your Losses

Losing a loved one in an accident is always a tragedy, but when that accident could have been prevented, it can be even more difficult to process. Families of victims who were killed due to someone else’s negligence have the option of pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit in some cases. These situations can be legally complex and emotionally challenging, so it’s important to understand what’s involved, how you can prepare, and how a wrongful death attorney can help.

Before you can make any decisions about whether you want to pursue legal actions, you need information. The team at Brent Adams & Associates is here to provide compassionate representation and empathetic support while educating you on your options and helping you decide how you want to move forward.

What Types of Accidents Are Eligible for Wrongful Death Cases?

North Carolina defines wrongful death as a death that happens as a result of “a wrongful act, neglect, or default of another.” In layman’s terms, this means you may be able to file a wrongful death case if your loved one was killed as a result of someone’s negligence or by a willful act.

While it is possible to file a wrongful death lawsuit in the civil system after a death by a criminal act, most wrongful death cases are related to accidents that would have otherwise been personal injury cases if the victim hadn’t died. Some examples of situations that could result in a wrongful death claim include:

  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Medical malpractice incidents
  • Workplace accidents
  • Drownings
  • Exposure to toxic substances
  • Some criminal acts resulting in death

If you’re not sure if you have a wrongful death case, schedule an appointment to speak with one of our attorneys.

Who Can File a Claim?

It’s important to understand who is eligible to file a wrongful death case in North Carolina to ensure the proper person files the claim. While many people believe that any surviving family member can file a wrongful death case, that isn’t true in this state. North Carolina law requires the executor of the deceased’s estate to be the person who files the lawsuit. In many cases, this may be the victim’s spouse, adult child, or other family member, but not always.

If the person died suddenly without a will and no executor was named, it’s up to the courts to appoint someone. In most cases, this will be the nearest surviving relative.

What Do You Need to Prove to Win Your Case?

There are specific elements for a successful wrongful death case that are required by law. First, you have to be able to show that the other party had a duty of care for the deceased. In some cases, this is fairly cut and dried. For example, if your loved one died as a passenger in a bus accident, the driver clearly has a duty of care to all passengers in the vehicle. Other situations, such as those resulting from criminal acts, can be more complicated.

The second element to prove is that the defendant breached that duty. This can be one of the more difficult aspects of wrongful death cases. This is because you have to show that the defendant was negligent or willful in their actions. Sometimes, accidents truly are accidents, and if the other party acted appropriately and did everything in their power to avoid the death, there may be no grounds for a lawsuit.

The third element is that the victim died. Many family members are surprised that this actually has to be proven as part of the case, but it’s true. Luckily, this is almost never a disputed fact in these cases.

The last element of a wrongful death case is to show that your loved one would still be alive if not for the actions of the other party. You need to draw a clear correlation between what the defendant did and why your loved one died.

How Is Compensation Calculated?

While no amount of money can truly compensate you for the loss of your loved one, being awarded damages through a wrongful death lawsuit can help you recover the money you spent on burial and funeral expenses and provide much-needed funds when you’re dealing with the loss of an income. Damages in wrongful death cases fall into three categories:

  • Financial expenses: This includes burial and funeral expenses.
  • Losses sustained by the surviving family members: This includes things like loss of the deceased’s income, loss of care and companionship, and loss of guidance for surviving children.
  • Punitive damages: These are only awarded if the death was caused by willful action or malice, such as in the case of criminal acts.

If there were medical expenses related to treatment before the victim died or they experienced pain and suffering, you may also be able to file a survival action to recover compensation for these damages as well.

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Cases in North Carolina?

The statute of limitations for a wrongful death case in North Carolina is two years. And while this seems like a long time, it can pass quite quickly when you’re grieving and dealing with sorting out the person’s estate. If you’re considering filing a wrongful death lawsuit after your loved one was killed, it’s best to speak with an attorney as soon as possible to ensure you understand what you will need to do and what the timeline is.

Talk to an attorney at Brent Adams & Associates about your wrongful death case, and get the answers you need. Call our office at 910-692-1119.