How is Compensation Determined in a Wrongful Death Claim in North Carolina?

The loss of a close loved one in an accident is devastating. Nothing could truly be enough to make things right after such a horrific loss. At the same time, the at-fault party must be held accountable. Surviving family members need justice. In a civil legal claim, justice comes largely in the form of financial compensation. 

This raises an important question: How is compensation determined in a wrongful death case in North Carolina? The short answer is that an eligible loved one can obtain compensation for economic and non-economic damages. It is always issued on a case-by-case basis. Our wrongful death lawyers provide an overview of how financial compensation is determined in a wrongful death case in North Carolina. 

What is a Wrongful Death Claim in North Carolina? (Know the Law)

First, it is essential to understand how wrongful death laws work in North Carolina. A wrongful death claim is a civil cause of action. It is a fault-based legal claim that allows surviving family members to hold a negligent party legally accountable for a fatal accident. The claim is brought under North Carolina General Statutes § 28A-18-2. Some potential examples of situations that could give rise to a wrongful death claim in North Carolina include the following: 

  • Car accidents
  • Large truck accidents
  • Pedestrian collisions
  • Fall accidents
  • Negligent security
  • Other unsafe conditions on a property 
  • Medical malpractice
  • Dangerous and defective products 

An Overview of the Different Types of Damages Survivors Can Be Pursue 

The purpose of wrongful death compensation is to provide financial and emotional support to the surviving family members of an individual who has died as a result of the negligence or wrongful act of another person or entity. In other words, wrongful death compensation is determined based on the losses—monetary and intangible—suffered by the surviving loved ones. Here is an overview of the different types of damages that can be pursued in a wrongful death claim in North Carolina: 

  • Economic Damages: These are damages that are intended to compensate for financial losses that the survivors have suffered as a result of the death, such as funeral and burial costs, any out-of-pocket medical bills, loss of financial support, and other costs associated with the death.
  • Non-Economic Damages: Of course, most of the damages associated with a wrongful death are non-economic in nature. These are damages that are intended to compensate for emotional losses that the survivors have suffered as a result of the death, such as loss of companionship, support, and emotional distress.
  • Punitive Damages: Although reserved for a very limited number of wrongful death claims that involved egregious conduct on the part of the defendant, punitive damages may be awarded to the victim’s family to punish wrongdoing. 

Wrongful Death Compensation is Determined on a Case-By-Case Basis

Wrongful death compensation is determined on a case-by-case basis, considering various factors specific to each case. These factors may include the decedent’s age, earning capacity, life expectancy, and the emotional impact of the death on the surviving family members. The simple reality is that it is extraordinarily challenging to put a monetary value on a person’s life. 

Unfortunately, the defendants and insurance companies on the other side in wrongful death claims often try to minimize the amount they have to pay out in a settlement or a verdict. An experienced wrongful death lawyer can help you and your family develop a comprehensive case to secure maximum financial support. 

Know the Deadline: North Carolina Statute of Limitations

You and your family only have a limited amount of time to file a wrongful death lawsuit in North Carolina. Under the state’s strictly-enforced statute of limitations, a wrongful death claim must be filed within two years of the date of the fatality. There are very few exceptions to the wrongful death claims statute of limitations. What happens if you wait too long to bring a claim? Your lawsuit could be denied without any hearing. Be proactive: Consult with our North Carolina wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible after a fatal accident. 

Get Help From Our Raleigh Wrongful Death Attorney Today

At Green Mistretta Law, PLLC, our North Carolina wrongful death lawyers are compassionate, experienced, and justice-focused advocates for grieving families. We help our clients secure the maximum compensation to pay bills and support themselves and their loved ones. Call us now or send us a direct message to set up your free, fully confidential initial appointment with an attorney. We handle wrongful death claims throughout North Carolina.