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Raleigh Wrongful Death Attorney

Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Claim in Raleigh, North Carolina?

Not every person who has lost a loved one can file a wrongful death claim.

When someone else does not act in a reasonable way, and that results in the death of your loved one, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit in North Carolina.

While this type of legal action can never replace your loved one or fill the void in your life because they are gone, it does help address some of the realities that the loss has on your life. When a breadwinner in a family is gone, for example, the family has to face the very real financial hit that their loved one’s death caused. When that hit is the fault of someone else, a wrongful death lawsuit can help address some of those financial concerns.

The Basics: What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?

A wrongful death case might be an option for you if your loved one was killed by the negligent or wrongful act of another. Some of the most common examples where wrongful death suits arise include the following situations.

  • Car accidents
  • Truck collisions
  • Motorcycle crashes
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Bicycle crashes
  • Dangerous drugs or devices

This list does not address every situation. If you think you might have a wrongful death claim on behalf of a loved one, it is a good idea to speak with a Raleigh wrongful death attorney about your situation. He or she will be able to tell you whether you have a claim and the chances that your lawsuit is successful.

What Kind of Damages Are Available in a North Carolina Wrongful Death Case?

“Damages” are a legal term that describes any category of money that you can receive because of your losses or injuries. While there is nothing that can replace the loss of your loved one, money damages are, unfortunately, the only real way that North Carolina law allows for compensation in a wrongful death claim.

 

Some of the most common areas of loss in a wrongful death claim that would result in money damages include things like:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Loss of income for the deceased person
  • The decedent’s physical and mental pain and suffering before their death
  • Loss of companionship, services, and protection of your loved one
  • Loss of income for the remainder of your loved one’s life
  • Medical bills and related expenses that occurred before your loved one’s death
  • Your loss of income or earning potential while you cared for your now-deceased loved one

Every case is different, so your situation may not include all of these damages; it might also include more categories of damage.

Who Can Assert a Wrongful Death Claim?

In North Carolina, only certain individuals can assert a wrongful death claim. That means that you may not be able to start a lawsuit, even if your loved one’s death significantly affected you.

The only individual who has a right to file a wrongful death lawsuit in North Carolina is the decedent’s personal representative. This is the person who was designated to carry out your loved one’s wishes in their will or based on North Carolina law. This person is generally known as either an Executor or an Administrator.

An estate must be opened for there to be a wrongful death lawsuit. This point is important because many people do not need to open an estate to have their assets administered. However, if you want to start a wrongful death claim, opening an estate is one of the first steps that you must take to start this process. Your Raleigh, NC, wrongful death lawyer will be able to help you with this process.

If your loved one did not designate a representative in their will or they did not have a will, then the court will appoint someone to administer the estate. The court can technically appoint anyone, but it will generally be one of a few categories of people, including relatives such as:

  • Spouse
  • Child
  • Parent

A more distant relative or even a friend can also be appointed if there are no close relatives. Sometimes the personal representative can also be someone who works for a bank or another financial institution, too.

Proving Wrongful Death in Raleigh, North Carolina

You should work with a wrongful death attorney in Raleigh if you want to start a wrongful death lawsuit. He or she will be able to tell you the very specific facts that you need to prove in your particular situation. In general, you will need to show the following facts:

  • The defendant (the party that caused the harm) had a responsibility or duty to act in a reasonable manner to prevent injuries.
  • The defendant failed to act in a reasonable way.
  • The defendant’s actions (or sometimes inactions) resulted in the death of your loved one.

You must file your wrongful death claim within two years of the date of your loved one’s death under North Carolina law. However, you should contact a Raleigh NC wrongful death lawyer long before that deadline. Waiting too long to take action can make gathering evidence very difficult.

If you have lost a loved one, and you believe that you may have a wrongful death claim, contact our team. The Clausen Law Firm, a wrongful death law firm located in Raleigh, NC, can help you decide what your next steps should be: 833-680-0177.

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