When the death of a person is caused by the wrongful act or neglect or of another, the decedent’s estate may have a claim for Wrongful Death. The ability to pursue a Wrongful Death claim is derived from North Carolina General Statute 28-18-2.
What Damages Can Be Recovered in a Wrongful Death Case?
According to North Carolina General Statute 28-18-2, damages recoverable in a wrongful death case include:
- Expenses for care, treatment and hospitalization incident to the injury resulting in death;
- Compensation for the pain and suffering of the decedent;
- The reasonable funeral expenses of the decedent;
- The present monetary value of the decedent to the persons entitled to receive the damages recovered, including but not limited to compensation for the loss of the reasonably expected:
- Net income of the decedent,
- Services, protection, care and assistance of the decedent, whether voluntary or obligatory, to the persons entitled to the damages recovered,
- Society, companionship, comfort, guidance, kindly offices and advice of the decedent to the persons entitled to the damages recovered;
- Such punitive damages as the decedent could have recovered pursuant to Chapter 1(D) of the General Statutes had he survived, and punitive damages for wrongfully causing the death of the decedent through malice or willful and wanton conduct, as defined in General Statute 1(D)5;
- Nominal damages when the jury so finds.
Who will get the money from a Wrongful Death settlement?
At the conclusion of a Wrongful Death case, any settlement proceeds are divided as follows:
- The Estate is reimbursed for the expenses incurred in pursuing the wrongful death action;
- Attorney fees are paid (a percentage of the recovery);
- Medical expenses are paid (but not beyond $4,500);
- Decedent’s heirs receive the remainder of the recovery pursuant to the Intestate Succession Act of North Carolina. This legislation describes how estate assets are to be divided among heirs when the decedent dies Intestate (without a Will). Even if the decedent had a Will, the recovery in a wrongful death case is still distributed to heirs pursuant to the Intestate Succession Act. We can explain how this will apply to your particular situation based on the number and relationship of the decedent’s heirs.
What should I do if a loved one is killed due to another’s negligence?
Losing a loved one is never easy. It is even harder when the loss could have been prevented. It goes without saying that you will need time to heal and to deal with your grief. However, we suggest that you call us as soon as you are able to do so. It is important to speak with us as soon as possible so that we do not lose valuable evidence concerning the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death. The insurance company for the negligent party will have someone investigating and gathering evidence to build a defense within hours following the loss. It is important that you have someone working for you at the same time so that your rights are protected.
Once you have retained us as your law firm we can take over the investigation and move forward with the case. You can rest assured that we will be working hard on your case while you focus on healing and spending time with your family and friends.
Each wrongful death claim is different, and we welcome the opportunity to speak with you at your convenience. We often visit potential clients at their homes so that they can be as comfortable as possible when discussing their potential case. We hope that you will let us help you through this difficult time.
Things NOT to do after a wrongful death.
- Do not speak with the party responsible for the death.
- Do not speak with any insurance companies. If you are contacted by an insurance adjuster, get their contact information and tell them someone will be in contact.
- Do not dispose of any evidence (including the vehicle if the death was due to a vehicular accident).
- Do not sign anything from any insurance company.
- Do not give any recorded statements concerning the wrongful death.
- Do not sign any authorizations allowing a search of the decedent’s medical records and medical history.
How do legal fees work in a wrongful death case?
We will not get paid until you get paid. We work on what is called a “contingent fee” basis. The law firm will deduct a percentage of the settlement, arbitration award or litigation verdict as compensation. This is done at the end of your case. There is no legal fee if there is no recovery.