First of all, we want to say how sorry we are to hear about your loss.
A lawsuit for the early death of a family member caused by the negligence of another is called a wrongful death lawsuit. Legal jargon can be important: the statutory phrase is death by wrongful act in North Carolina. The idea behind this type of lawsuit is that the true victims are the people left behind—the family members of the deceased person.
In North Carolina, only the personal representative of the deceased person can be the plaintiff of a wrongful death suit. The personal representative represents the interests of the estate, but often can be persuaded by a consensus of the surviving family whether to file a lawsuit.
The next thing to do is to secure the services of a North Carolina law firm with a solid history of compassion for bereaved families and a fierce passion to get the maximum compensation their clients deserve. The Wilmington premises liability attorneys at Speaks Law Firm are experienced in handling premises liability claims for fatal North Carolina fires. We pursue clients’ claims with respect for the dignity of your deceased family member and for the family’s grieving process.
Six Categories of Recovery
Although mere money never can replace the value of a human life, the financial consequences caused by a sudden death in your family can be cushioned by the proceeds of a lawsuit. A detailed examination of the life of the deceased and her role within your family will allow us to make preliminary estimates about the value of your case.
The laws for wrongful death in North Carolina provide six categories of compensation:
- Expenses for medical care, treatment, and hospitalization from the time the deceased person was injured until her death, capped at a maximum of $4,500.
- Compensation for pain and suffering of the deceased person.
- Funeral expenses.
- The loss to close family members due to the death, including factors such as income the deceased person would have earned; the value of services, protection, and care the deceased person would have provided; and the value of companionship, comfort, advice, and guidance the deceased person would have given.
- Punitive damages, if the person responsible for the injury caused the death of the deceased person “through malice or willful or wanton conduct.”
- Nominal damages awarded by a jury. This would be a minimum recovery—$1—in recognition that the responsible party had inflicted other harms that could not be measured because the deceased person wasn’t able to testify about them.
Any money awarded for categories 1 and 3 will go to pay off expenses. Any remaining money from the lawsuit verdict or settlement will go to family members. By state law, the only people who can receive compensation from a wrongful death lawsuit are family members who would have inherited money from the deceased person’s estate if she had died without a will. That rule applies even if the decedent did leave a will; the rule still defines who can receive money after a lawsuit.
Further Information, When You Need It
If you have additional questions about pursuing a wrongful death claim in North Carolina, the Speaks Law Firm is just a phone call away. Call us at 877-593-4233 today to get more information or to set up a free consultation with one of our experienced Wilmington wrongful death attorneys.