Recoverable Damages in Wrongful Death Cases
In legal terminology, financial compensation awarded to victims in successful wrongful death claims is known as damages. When found liable for the preventable death of a victim, defendants are financially responsible for paying victims for their damages. In wrongful death cases, these damages include both the financial losses arising from a family member’s death, as well as the non-economic damages incurred by victims and grieving family members, which are more difficult to translate into monetary sums.
North Carolina’s Wrongful Death Statute (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 28A-18-2) outlines damages families can recover for the preventable death of their loved ones. The law combines two traditional parts of a wrongful death case:
- Survival action, which is the claim the victim possessed prior to their passing (i.e. pre-death medical expenses); and
- Wrongful death action, which is brought on behalf of the victim’s family for damages they suffered as a result of their loved one’s death.
In general, wrongful death suits can provide compensation for:
- Medical expenses incurred prior to a victim’s death
- Loss of income prior to death
- Lost income a victim would have earned
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Physical pain and suffering endured by the victim before their passing
- Loss of emotional support, services, care, companionship, and guidance
Our Recent Wrongful Death Cases:
- $9.45M settlement over a deadly tanker truck wreck on I-95.
- $8.6M settlement against an intoxicated driver who drove the wrong way on a highway.
- $6M settlement for the family of a young lifeguard electrocuted as a result of electrical wiring failures and a short in a pool pump motor.
- $2.7M settlement for the family of a father killed in a tractor-trailer wreck on a N.C. Highway.
- $1.2M settlement for the family of a police shooting victim.
Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death in North Carolina?
In North Carolina, wrongful death lawsuits are brought by a personal representative of the victim, on behalf of beneficiaries.
Personal Representative: If the victim had a will, the personal representative would be the executor. If no will was left, the person who would qualify as the estate administrator would be the personal representative. If no executor or administrator wants to serve as a personal representative, a court-appointed public administrator will serve.
Beneficiaries: Though specific parties must “bring” a wrongful death claim in North Carolina, the beneficiaries of a lawsuit include any persons who would be entitled to a victim’s estate under the North Carolina Intestate Succession Act (the law which governs how estates are distributed when a decedent did not have a will).
Examples of individuals who may be entitled to wrongful death damages include:
- Other beneficiaries
What Is The Statute of Limitations?
In most cases, a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within two years of the victim’s death. However, there are circumstances which can shorten the time in which a lawsuit much be filed.
Because statutes of limitations can vary depending on the unique facts of a case, and because filing a timely claim preserves a family’s right to recover damages, it is strongly encouraged that plaintiffs with potential claims seek assistance from experienced attorneys to assess the merits of their case as soon as possible.
At Edwards Kirby, we provide free and confidential consultations during which we can review your case and discuss the applicable statute of limitations.
How is Liability Determined?
How liability is determined in a wrongful death action will vary from case to case. As highly fact-specific legal claims, wrongful death suits require in-depth evaluations of the circumstances surrounding a victim’s death, the actions of potentially at-fault parties, specific rules, standards, or regulations that may apply to the situation, and numerous other particularities and laws.
At Edwards Kirby, our legal team has secured record-setting results and millions in compensation for families in a range of wrongful death cases, and can help you understand liability in relation to your potential case during a consultation. We handle a range of cases, including those involving:
Have questions about a potential case and how our award-winning trial lawyers can help you? Edwards Kirby is available to take your call. We proudly serve clients throughout Raleigh and the state of North Carolina.