Raleigh Wrongful Death Attorneys
Few things are more painful than the sudden and unexpected loss of a loved one. The situation becomes even more difficult when the death is caused by the wrongdoing of a person or company. Car accidents, defective products, work accidents, dangerous property conditions, and other hazards can cause fatal injuries if proper care is not taken to avoid the accident or to mitigate or warn of the risk.
If you’ve lost a close relative in an accident, you may have many questions. What will our family do now? What happened? How could this accident have been prevented? How will we pay medical and funeral bills and other expenses, as well as the household bills in the future? Is there any way to hold a negligent party accountable for the loss they’ve caused our family?
At Younce & Vtipil, our accidental death attorneys work hard to help families secure the compensation they need after an accident claims a life. To learn more, call our office today for a free consultation and advice about your legal options. Let us bear the burden of handling the legal matters while you focus on grieving and putting your life back together.
What Is a Wrongful Death Case?
When the intentional, reckless, or negligent behavior of another person or company causes a death, certain family members closely related to the person who died may bring a wrongful death claim. The purpose of the wrongful death claim is to compensate the family for their loss.
One way to think about wrongful death claims is to compare them to personal injury cases. In a personal injury case, the injured person brings the claim to court to seek compensation from the party that caused the harm. In a wrongful death case, the injured person is no longer able to bring his or her own claim to court. Instead, North Carolina law allows certain family members to step in to bring the claim.
How Does a Wrongful Death Claim Get to Court?
In North Carolina, the surviving spouse of a deceased person may file a wrongful death claim. If there is no surviving spouse, then any surviving children may file the claim. If the deceased person had no spouse or children who survived, the deceased person’s parents may file the claim. If the deceased person had no spouse, children, or parents, the administrator of the person’s estate can sue on the person’s behalf.
In all these cases, a wrongful death case gets to court when the appropriate family member or administrator files the lawsuit in court. Wrongful death claims are civil lawsuits, which means the family member or administrator files them directly and liability is expressed solely in terms of money damages.
The claim can often be brought to court even if the deceased person died before bringing a personal injury lawsuit. For instance, imagine a person who was injured in a car accident and lived for several weeks afterward, but eventually died of the injuries suffered in the crash. The person’s family might bring a wrongful death lawsuit, even though many days passed between the accident and the death. If the injured person had filed a personal injury claim but died before that claim was resolved, the estate can often pursue the claim on the injured person’s behalf.
If you believe you have a wrongful death case, talk to an attorney as soon as possible. Certain deadlines apply to wrongful death cases in North Carolina, and a lawyer can help you make sure you do not miss them. Your Raleigh wrongful death lawyer can also help you ensure that you maximize your chances at recovery in the face of often-complex rules regarding wrongful death claims and survivorships.
In some situations, a criminal case may be pending against the person who caused the death. A wrongful death claim can still be filed even if the criminal case is still being heard. However, because civil and criminal cases can interact in complex ways, it is important to work with a lawyer to file a wrongful death claim.
Potential Damages in a North Carolina Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Like a personal injury case, a wrongful death claim typically pursues certain types and amounts of money damages.
In most wrongful death claims, damages include:
- Expenses related to the death, like medical care, funeral, and burial expenses
- Loss of the earnings the deceased person would have made if he or she had lived
- Compensation for the deceased person’s pain and suffering
- The loss of the care, companionship, and protection that the deceased person would have provided to his or her surviving family members if not for the death
Even if the deceased person never held a job, a wrongful death claim may seek damages for the value the person contributed to the family in other ways. For instance, suppose that a spouse who stayed home to take care of the household and raise the children was killed in a car accident. The surviving spouse may file a wrongful death claim to seek damages, including compensation for the loss of the household care and childcare services the stay-at-home spouse provided, the loss of the spouse’s love and companionship, and other losses.
Although an experienced lawyer will always prepare for the possibility of trial, most wrongful death claims in North Carolina are settled before they go to trial. The length of time it takes to complete a wrongful death case depends on many factors, including the complexity of the facts involved, the number of potentially negligent parties, and how settlement negotiations proceed. Be prepared for the case to last anywhere from a few months to several years, and choose a lawyer who is willing to take the time needed to ensure your family receives a full and fair settlement.Get a Consultation Now