When someone dies through the fault of another person, there are two types of legal cases that can be brought. The first of these is the criminal case, which can result in prison time, fines, probation or other censures. The second of these is a civil case known as a wrongful death lawsuit.
Wrongful death cases are unrelated to criminal cases; they are a means by which you can get financial compensation for the loss of your loved one. Only specific people, however, can file and pursue these cases. Discover the laws and statutes surrounding who can file a wrongful death lawsuit, the time frames required, and when a wrongful death attorney is necessary.
What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?
As a civil suit, there are no prison sentences or other legal censures involved with a wrongful death claim. This lawsuit can be pursued regardless of the existence or outcome of any criminal charges. It holds the guilty party responsible in a financial sense, allowing for monetary awards to cover the financial losses you’ve suffered from the death of your loved one.
The various levels of compensation you can get from such a claim include medical expenses leading up to the death, funeral and burial expenses, pain and suffering, lost income and financial support that would have been received, loss of protection, care, comfort, assistance and companionship and more. In the very worst cases (often associated with drunk driving), punitive damages may be awarded as well.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
Every state has their own laws and rules regarding who can file a wrongful death claim. Unlike a criminal case, these claims must be filed and pursued by a specific person. In North Carolina, this must be the person who is named as the executor of the estate or other designated personal representative. This person will be designated within the estate plan, or by the probate courts.
This person files and pursued the case, on behalf of the surviving family and the estate. It is common for a surviving spouse, parent, or adult child to fill this role, but that is by no means a universal, and a personal representative can be anyone properly designated.
Time Limit to File
In every state, there is a time limit referred to as a statute of limitations, during which you have to file your case. Failing to file within this timeframe can result in the courts finding the claim invalid. In North Carolina, this timeframe is two years from the date of death.
Working with an Attorney
Wrongful death cases can be stressful and complex, and it’s easy to make a costly mistake. That’s why it’s essential if you have lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence or actions careless or deliberate, to hire the services of a qualified North Carolina wrongful death attorney to protect your rights and seek compensation for your loss.
If you’re in the Winston-Salem area and you need information on who can file a wrongful death lawsuit, or collect damages, call Mike Lewis Attorneys for a free consultation today.