It’s difficult to think about legal matters, when you are grieving from the loss of a loved one, but it’s important to speak to a North Carolina Wrongful Death Lawyer if you believe your loved one’s death was caused by the negligence of another. An attorney can assess whether you have a wrongful death claim and worry about the details while you can focus on moving forward after your loss.
After a loved passes, grieving should be the utmost priority. Contacting the person responsible (in person, by phone or on social media) for your loved one’s death is not a good idea no matter how egregious their actions were.
Remember to prioritize your remaining family during this time. Some steps to help you get organized:
- While making the funeral arrangements, be sure to order several (10) copies of the death certificate as you will need these to handle your loved one’s business affairs.
- Go through your loved one’s important paper stash and find out who they owed and what they owned. Make a list with phone numbers and fax numbers. This will help you when you need to send them the death certificate.
- Speak to an estate lawyer to determine if an estate needs to be set up, more than likely it will.
- Determine who the beneficiary is on your loved one’s insurance policies. If that person is a minor, extra steps will need to be taken to protect their financial future.
- If your loved one owned property (cars, land or a home), you will need to find out how it is titled. If titled in the deceased’s name alone a transfer of ownership will need to be made.
- Any monthly bills in your loved one’s name (power, cable, water, gas, i.e.) will need to be informed of their passing.
- A hold should be placed on all bank accounts in the deceased person’s name.
- Inform SSA, DMV and other government agencies of your loved one’s death.
NC Wrongful Death Law
The law that applies to your loved one’s death is determined by the circumstances of their death. Wrongful deaths can be caused by anything from car accidents to medical malpractice or even a fatal work accident. NC is a contributory negligence state, which means for a decedent’s estate or surviving spouse to recover for their injury, the deceased person must not have been at fault for the fatal accident (but see Last Clear Chance Doctrine). This results in unfair outcomes, but is unfortunately the law in NC.
Deaths Caused by Auto Accidents
If your loved one was harmed in a car accident, motorcycle accident, or truck accident, you only have two years to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. Most other NC negligence cases allow for three years to bring a claim. But with a NC wrongful death action, your claim is barred by the Statute of Limitations two years after the date of the death.
The decedent’s estate can recover the cost of medical expenses, pain & suffering of the deceased, reasonable funeral expenses, present monetary value of the decedent, punitive damages and nominal damages (if awarded by the jury). Some of the types of recovery are easy to calculate while others (pain & suffering and present monetary value of the deceased) can be complicated to determine. A NC Personal Injury Lawyer can help you quantify these numbers and illustrate the very real loss that you, your family and society has suffered.
Death Caused by Medical Malpractice
If the deceased passed away due to negligence in the furnishing or failing to furnish professional services in the performance of medical, dental, or other health care by a health care provider, the case is governed under Article 1B but also falls under the two year statute of limitations discussed above.
In the case of medical malpractice, it can be difficult to know whether your relative died from the negligence of a doctor or would have died from natural causes. An attorney with experience in wrongful death claims will be able to sift through the merits of your case and assess (in the case of negligence ), whether it makes sense financially to file suit. They can also walk you through the litigation process and you can decide together whether filing a wrongful death suit is the right move for you and your family.
Death Caused by Workplace Accident
If the death of your loved one was caused by an on-the-job accident , your case would be governed by the laws of North Carolina’s Workers’ Compensation. Like a regular North Carolina Workers’ Compensation case, the employer must be notified within 30 days of the death in writing. In addition, the death benefits claim must be filed with the NC Industrial Commission (NCIC) within two years of the death of the injured worker. The death must occur as a direct result of a work injury or occupational disease within six years of the accident, or within 2 years after a final disability determination is made, whichever is later.
Dependents can also receive death benefits through these laws. Even if the employer of your late relative has agreed to pay out death benefits, it’s important to talk to a lawyer who is on your side to make sure they are paying out the full amount you are entitled to.
North Carolina Wrongful Death Lawyer
A NC Wrongful Death Attorney can help determine which type of wrongful death case you may have and ensure you receive the appropriate compensation for the loss of your loved one. Unfortunately, losing a loved one due to the wrongful act of another is not just emotionally painful, it can be financially devastating for a family. Having a Wrongful Death Attorney on your side helps ensure that you receive the most compensation you are entitled to under law and while this will not bring your loved one back, it can help ease worries about your family’s financial future.
We represent the families of wrongful death victim’s in Raleigh, Cary, Durham, Fayetteville, Chapel Hill, Wilson, Louisburg, Smithfield, Rocky Mount and Roanoke Rapids. Call us at (919) 615-3095 for a free case review. We wish you peace and solace for your loss.