Guidance During A Difficult Time
Dealing with the loss of a loved one can be exceedingly difficult, especially when it is due to the negligence of another party. There are numerous differences between a wrongful death case and a standard personal injury case, so it is important to make sure you hire an attorney who is not only experienced in these types of cases but also sensitive to you and your family’s needs.
In a wrongful death case, an attorney needs to get to know both the person who was lost and the surviving family members. An attorney handling these types of cases needs to understand the loss that those family members have suffered due to the death of their loved one. This is the type of service and care you can expect when you hire Hardee, Massey & Blodgett, LLP.
The Basics Of Wrongful Death Litigation
Under North Carolina statute § 28A-18-2, wrongful death is defined as a death “caused by a wrongful act, neglect or default of another,” and one that would have been grounds for a personal injury action if the victim had survived.
One major difference between a personal injury case and a wrongful death suit is who serves as the plaintiff. The late victim obviously cannot be the plaintiff, so someone else must stand in.
Surviving family members seem like a natural choice to fill this role, but North Carolina law says that only the executor, sometimes called the personal representative, of the victim’s estate can serve as the plaintiff. This is the person named as executor in the victim’s will, if there was a will, or someone appointed by the court when there is no will. Adult family members can be named as executors and could file suit in this capacity.
We Answer Your Questions About Wrongful Death
After you lose someone who you relied on and loved, you might feel lost in many ways. Legal questions are natural to have at this time and we want to help you get the answers you need to your most important questions. Below are answers to a few of the most commonly asked questions we get:
What are the most common causes of wrongful death?
There is no one cause of wrongful death. In fact, the loss of life to negligence can happen under any circumstance, including:
- Car crashes
- Medical mistakes
- Motorcycle accidents
- Animal attacks
Any accident where someone sustains significant injuries is as likely to cause a loss of life as any other. In fact, from 2020-2022 there were over 5000 deaths from car accidents across the state. Taken together with the number of car crashes at that time, leads to a rate of one death for every 169 accidents. That may not sound like a lot, but it is a distinctly difficult moment for families.
How long do wrongful death claims take?
No one can tell you exactly how long it will take to come to a resolution about a wrongful death claim. It can take months to years to reach a settlement or a verdict. However, it is important to move quickly when you believe you have a claim, as you only have two years to begin. If the estate waits too long, the statute of limitations will run out and will not be allowed to pursue compensation.
Will I have go to court for the claim?
As the claim will be filed on behalf of the estate by the personal representative, you will not necessarily have to go to court. However, it is likely that you can provide testimony that speaks to the loss and difficulties and struggles you’ve had since your loved one’s death. Your contribution to the lawsuit will be a considered piece of the overall strategy.
What kinds of compensation are available?
In North Carolina, plaintiffs in a wrongful death lawsuit can seek the following types of damages:
- Costs of the victim’s medical care and treatment related to the fatal injury
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Compensation for the victim’s pain and suffering prior to death
- Compensation to surviving family members for the victim’s lost wages/income (present and future)
- Compensation to family members for loss of the victim’s companionship, protection, services, guidance, etc.
The compensation available in a wrongful death claim is connected to the economic and personal loss you suffered in complex ways.
Attorneys Who Will Be By Your Side
Our attorneys will help you carefully and fully account for the financial costs of your loved one’s death and help you seek compensation appropriately. We have extensive experience in wrongful death law, and we want to offer you the compassionate guidance you deserve during this challenging time. Your case is not only about the family member you lost, but also about the loss suffered by the entire family.
We know that no amount of compensation will ease the loss of your loved one, however, we understand that compensation could help alleviate financial burdens from unpaid medical and funeral expenses.