Millions of unsuspecting individuals lose their lives in unfortunate accidents throughout the United States each year. No matter the cause and nature of the accident, these incidents inflict unimaginable trauma on the victims and their families. If one manages to survive the ordeal, the road to recovery is equally, if not more, challenging. Victims of accidents can incur hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills, lost income, potential work opportunities, costs of ongoing medical, surgical, and rehabilitative therapy, and more. Victims are forced to pay out of pocket if their insurance does not cover their physical injuries and property damage and have to borrow loans to cover their treatment costs which can weigh heavily on their finances and pose a significant hindrance to their recovery.
If you lose your loved one in a tragic accident and it is discovered that the accident might have resulted from someone else’s negligence, you can pursue legal action against the party liable for the incident. While nothing can bring your loved one back, legal recourse can not only help you get justice for the wrongful death of your beloved relative but also financial compensation for the damages resulting from the incident. If you find yourself in such a situation, a wrongful death lawyer at Riddle & Brantley in North Carolina can help you build a strong legal defense against the negligent party for the compensation of damages and justice for the demise of your loved one.
Who Can Pursue Legal Action in Wrongful Death Lawsuits
North Carolina law stipulates that any wrongful death lawsuits brought forth on behalf of the deceased must be filed by an individual who represents the legal estate of the victim. If you lost your loved one in a tragic accident due to someone else’s negligence, you can pursue legal action against the negligent party on behalf of the victim and their estate. The rule applies to cases where the deceased has already named a representative in case of their death.
However, if there is no estate plan in place or the representative chosen by the deceased cannot represent the victim in a wrongful death lawsuit, a court-appointed person can serve in their stead. In most wrongful death claims, the personal representative chosen by the court is a surviving relative of the victim, usually an immediate family member like a living spouse, parent, or child (provided they are of age, i.e., greater than 18 years old).
Compensable Damages in Wrongful Death Lawsuits
‘Damages’ is a broad term used legally to describe the losses incurred due to an accident. Compensable damages are the ones for which the surviving relative of the deceased can file a lawsuit for compensation. These damages might include medical or surgical expenses of the deceased that were related to their injury or resulting illness, the emotional suffering and pain endured by the victim before death, charges for the funeral and burial or cremation of the deceased, lost wages, loss of consortium or companionship, loss of the victim’s protection, care, or assistance, etc. In some cases, the court might see fit to grant punitive damages. This form of compensation is usually awarded to the plaintiff in cases where it is clear that the defendant displayed egregious misconduct, malice, or intended harm to the victim through their actions. Punitive damages are a legal way for the court to send a message and set a precedent so that such misconduct can be avoided in the future.
Wrongful deaths can result from a wide range of accidents that can be traced back to the violation of safety regulations meant to prevent accidents and physical injury or death. If your loved one lost their life in an incident where it was clear that the defendant acted poorly, you can hold them liable for the accident and resulting damages, including the death of your relative. Most lawsuits related to personal injury fall under the purview of the duty of care principle.
The principle suggests that all individuals and entities owe their fellow humans a certain duty of care, which includes the mitigation of any harmful circumstances that might result in physical injury or death. If an individual violates this principle and intentionally or unintentionally creates unsafe conditions conducive to accidents, injury, or death, they can be held liable for the accident and consequent damages.
Statute of Limitations
When filing a wrongful death lawsuit, time is of paramount importance due to the statute of limitations in such cases. The statute of limitations describes a period after which no lawsuit can be brought forth against the negligent party. It is extremely important to be aware of this deadline because it hinders one’s ability to seek justice past the deadline.
In North Carolina, the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is two years, and the clock starts at the time of death of an individual. While minor exceptions might be seen in some cases, this statute of limitations applies to a majority of lawsuits filed in the state, no matter the nature of the accident. It is important to get in touch with an attorney immediately and collect the maximum amount of physical evidence possible to ensure that your loved one will get the justice they deserve for their wrongful departure.
If you lost your loved one in an accident that resulted from someone else’s negligence, you can seek legal action against the negligent party for justice. Through a lawsuit, you can recover compensation for damages resulting from any accidents that result from intentional or unintentional misconduct on the part of the defendant and pay for the deceased’s medical bills and other damages, including pain and suffering, loss of companionship, loss of protection, and more. A competent wrongful death attorney can help you file a wrongful death claim against the negligent party and guide you through the complex legal process of seeking justice for your beloved. A skilled lawyer is the best way to ensure success in wrongful death claims, especially when it is challenging to establish liability in such cases.