A North Carolina home or business fire can take your loved one before his or her time. After the funeral, you realized you can’t experience closure until the person responsible for the fire is held accountable. You need to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
The Concept of “Wrongful Death”
Attorneys use the phrase “wrongful death” to indicate a death caused by the negligent action or willful misconduct of another person. The concept for a wrongful death lawsuit is that the action not only harmed the deceased person, but also hurt the members of his or her family.
The idea of holding people accountable for death as a civil rather than criminal matter comes to us from common law. Each state has formalized the rules slightly differently. Our state’s the General Statutes, Chapter 28A, Article 18-2 give us the legal framework for a North Carolina wrongful death action.
Standing to File the Lawsuit
State laws vary on who can file a lawsuit for a wrongful death action. In legal jargon, a person who is permitted to start or join a lawsuit is said to have standing to sue. In North Carolina, the only person who has standing to file a wrongful death lawsuit is the personal representative of the deceased person. If the person who died appointed an executor (or executrix) or administrator in his or her will, then the person appointed will automatically be considered the personal representative. If the person who died had no written will, then the court can appoint a personal representative.
Often the personal representative, whether named in the will or appointed by a judge, is a close friend of the surviving family members and will listen to their advice about filing a lawsuit. Even if you are not in control of the decision to hire an attorney, you will be able to exercise influence over the decision-making process.
A wrongful death lawsuit is similar in many ways to any other North Carolina personal injury lawsuit. There is a state law—the statute of limitations—on how long you have to file the lawsuit. In North Carolina, you have a period of two years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit based on wrongful death. That gives the family a considerable period of time—but not unlimited time—to consider whether a lawsuit is in the best interests of the family members.
If you have questions about pursuing a wrongful death claim in North Carolina, you should speak with a caring and compassionate attorney with experience representing the interests of mourning families. Contact Speaks Law Firm at 877-593-4233 today to obtain more information, or to set up a free consultation with one of our skilled Wilmington fire injury attorneys.
Give us a chance to evaluate your case and indicate the compensation you can seek for the loss of your loved one. There is no charge for our services unless you obtain a verdict in your favor or accept a settlement offer.