Wrongful Death Attorney in Charlotte, NC
It only takes a moment for a family’s life to change forever. Losing a loved one is always heartbreaking, but the mix of emotions that come after a preventable death is often consuming in another way entirely. Whether a negligent driver caused a fatal accident, or a property owner failed to attend to a deadly hazard, the surviving family members have legal rights to hold the at-fault party accountable for their loved one’s death. A wrongful death attorney from Edwards Injury Law is here to help if you have lost a loved one because of someone else’s negligent actions. Contact us today.
What Is Wrongful Death in North Carolina?
Wrongful death is defined at the state level. Per N.C. Gen. Stat. § 28A-18-2 (2021), wrongful death in North Carolina occurs when an individual would have been able to file a personal injury claim if they had survived an accident. Instead, surviving family members have the opportunity to file a claim on their behalf to seek compensation for related economic and non-economic losses.
Wrongful death claims that fall under tort law are most often based on the legal concept of negligence. The elements of negligence include an owed duty of care, a breach of that duty, injuries as a result of the breach, and financial losses stemming from the injuries.
It is important to note that wrongful death claims fall under civil law, not criminal prosecution. Separate civil and criminal claims can occur simultaneously; however, know that liability is expressed differently. Civil liability is defined in financial compensation known as damaged, while criminal liability is expressed in convictions like prison or jail time, fines, and probation.
What Are the Common Causes of Wrongful Death?
There are numerous situations that have the potential to result in wrongful death. However, there are accidents that are more likely to result in a situation where a surviving family can file a civil claim. Those accidents include motor vehicle crashes and dangerous premises.
Thousands of North Carolina residents succumb to fatal injuries from motor vehicle accidents every year. Crashes are often the result of negligent actions like drunk driving, distracted driving, and speeding. While any wreck has the potential to be fatal, certain collisions, like head-on accidents and crashes involving differently-sized vehicles, are more likely to result in deadly injuries.
Cycling and walking are standard modes of transportation in Charlotte. Unfortunately, not all drivers share the road responsibly. When a moving vehicle hits a pedestrian or cyclist, the injuries are almost always severe. The faster the car travels at the time of impact, the more likely it is for the injuries to be fatal.
Dangerous conditions on public and private property need to be remedied as quickly as possible. It only takes a single missing handrail or torn carpet to result in a severe slip and fall. Falls are particularly dangerous because of the risk of traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries. Both have the potential to result in lifelong complications or death. Negligent property owners can be held accountable for fatal accidents in their homes, yards, businesses, etc.
While the accidents discussed above are the most common resulting in wrongful death, the list is by no means exhaustive. No matter what type of situation resulted in your loved one’s untimely passing, a Charlotte, NC wrongful death attorney can help you determine what steps to take next.
Can I File a Wrongful Death Claim?
In North Carolina, only the deceased’s personal representative, also known as an executor, is allowed to file a wrongful death claim in court. Executors are often named in estate documents, like a last will and testament. If, however, a person passes away without a defined personal representative, the court has the ability to appoint someone. Surviving spouses, adult children, or parents are often named executors.
Once an executor has been identified, the claim process can begin. It is important to note that all wrongful death claims are subject to a two-year statute of limitations – beginning from the date of the person’s death. If that timeline is not met, the personal representative will no longer have the ability to file a claim.
What Types of Death Benefits are Available in North Carolina?
There are numerous types of compensation surviving family members may be able to seek when filing a wrongful death claim on behalf of a deceased loved one. In North Carolina, those benefits are paid to both the decedent’s estate and survivors.
The first type of potential compensation is economic. Economic damages in a wrongful death case cover medical and hospital expenses related to the fatal accident, funeral and burial expenses, and lost wages. Claimants can also seek non-economic compensation for damages like pain and suffering endured by the decedent, loss of services, protection, or care, and loss of companionship.
In rare instances, punitive damages may also be available. Punitive damages are available in situations where the wrongful death was the result of willful or wanton misconduct – like a drunk driving accident. While economic and non-economic losses are intended to repay the surviving loved ones and estate, punitive damages serve to punish the at-fault person or entity for their negligence and discourage others from acting similarly in the future.
How Can Edwards Injury Law Help My Family
As a black- and veteran-owned law firm, we are aware of the challenges families must overcome in the face of adversity. The loss of a loved one is devastating, and grief is often compounded when the death could have been prevented. We are here to support you through this challenging time and help you seek justice for your loved one. With a history of service, we are dedicated to improving the lives of our clients every day. We know nothing can bring your loved one back, but we can offer an opportunity to find peace and a way to move forward together. Contact us today to learn more.
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