What is Wrongful Death
Contact your Charlotte attorney about Wrongful Deaths
Wrongful death cases are emotional and complex. They are some of the most difficult cases a lawyer can handle. Because every case is unique and because the law only allows loved ones two years to file a claim in most cases, it is important to talk with a lawyer as soon as possible.Wrongful death involves the same circumstances as a traditional personal injury case – someone’s negligence, carelessness, or wanton misconduct. However, because these cases result in death,they tend to focus on the impact of the tragedy on surviving family members. Wrongful death cases can involve a number of scenarios including:
- Fatal accidents involving cars, trucks, SUVs, motorcycles, and other vehicles
- Industrial and “plant” accidents including explosions
- Professional negligence, such as medical malpractice
- Defective products including consumer goods, foods, and healthcare products
- Premises liability including negligent maintenance of a property
The North Carolina Wrongful Death Act
The law states that a wrongful death lawsuit can be pursued when a death was caused by someone else’s neglect or wrongful act. It operates much like a personal injury case but also allows legal beneficiaries of the victim to recover for the serious financial consequences of the accident.
A wrongful death lawsuit in most cases must be filed within two years of the victim’s death, and punitive damages are capped at three times compensatory damages or $250,000, whichever amount is greater.
The Wrongful Death Act allows pursuit of compensatory, punitive, and nominal damages such as:
- Expenses related to the medical treatment the victim received
- Funeral expenses
- Compensation for the victim’s pain and suffering before death
- Lost future income and compensation for the “care and services” the victim provided for those entitled to seek damages
The law aims to keep the surviving loved ones in the same financial position they would have been in had the death not occurred. It allows bills to be paid, keeps the family home intact, and ensures that surviving children will go to college.
Pursuing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
How can you put a price tag on the tragic death of a loved one? You can’t make up for the loss of a human being, the companionship of a husband or wife, or the love of a father or mother. But the reality is that life must go on for those left behind, and there is no reason to allow someone else’s negligence or misconduct to deprive a family of the victim’s lost income, financial contributions, and earning potential.
In some cases, a wrongful death case goes far beyond compensation for family members. It can lead to changes in laws and standards so that such a tragedy will not happen again. Such far-reaching effects add an extra measure of comfort to a grieving family and community.
Pain and Suffering
The law has provisions to punish those at fault for causing pain and suffering above and beyond financial compensation. This applies to the victim, who may have suffered in his or her lasts moments of life. Witnesses to the accident are often called upon to describe those horrific seconds.
Gathering this testimony is among the most difficult aspects of the case. It is tough for personal injury lawyers gather relevant testimonies and for those involved to relive. However, it is a necessary step if the survivors aim to collect compensation for the victim’s pain and suffering.
Family members must also give statements in an effort to show their own loss. Cards, photographs, letters, testimony and other evidence of a close and happy relationship play a part in demonstrating pain and suffering to a jury.
However, many factors are taken into account that are unrelated to emotional devastation. These might include the age of the victim, the job held, number and ages of children, and financial responsibilities. Attorneys rely on professionals known as forensic economists to put losses in long-term monetary terms.
Hiring a Charlotte attorney that specializes in Wrongful Death
The burden of proof in these cases always lies with the plaintiffs, or those who are filing the wrongful death lawsuit. This means that the plaintiff must prove that the defendant was at fault in some way for the accident that ultimately caused the decedent’s death. Insurance companies for the defendants will try to use any defense possible to avoid compensating victims fairly. They will blame the victim for carelessness, for example. Such defenses can ultimately bear upon the damages claimed. That is why it is important for survivors to talk with an experienced personal injury attorney like those at The Olive Law Firm.