Charlotte Wrongful Death Attorney
Fighting for the Family of Wrongful Death Victims in North Carolina
In life, there is nothing more difficult than losing someone you love. While nothing can ever truly “compensate” you for your loss, if your loved one died as a result of someone else’s negligent or wrongful conduct, you deserve justice. By filing a wrongful death lawsuit, you can not only secure the financial recovery you need to manage unexpected costs, but you can also hold the responsible party accountable and get the answers you need.
If you believe that your family member or loved one’s death resulted from another person or party’s negligence or unlawful acts, we invite you to reach out to Payne Law Firm to learn how we can help. As an accomplished and compassionate wrongful death attorney in Charlotte, our founding attorney, Jason E. Payne, understands what you are going through—and he and his team are committed to helping you navigate this process.
What Makes a Death “Wrongful?”
North Carolina defines “wrongful death” as any death that occurs “by a wrongful act, neglect, or default of another.” Essentially, when the same grounds for a personal injury lawsuit are met, but the injured party does not survive, certain surviving family members are entitled to bring a wrongful death action.
Wrongful death actions often arise from the following accidents and incidents:
- Car accidents
- Motorcycle crashes
- Large truck collisions
- Bicycle and pedestrian accidents
- Slip and falls
- Defective products
- Bus accidents
- Rideshare (Uber, Lyft, etc.) collisions
- Drunk driving accidents
- Chemical exposure
This list is by no means comprehensive; if your loved one died due to devastating injuries or after any type of accident or traumatic event for which someone else was at fault, you could have grounds for a wrongful death claim.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in North Carolina?
Under North Carolina law, only the personal representative of the decedent’s estate is permitted to file a wrongful death claim. However, this claim seeks benefits on behalf of certain eligible family members, in addition to the estate itself.
If there is no existing personal representative, as appointed by the decedent prior to death, or if the appointed personal representative is unable or unwilling to act in accordance with his or her duties, the court will appoint one. In such cases, the personal representative is referred to as the “executor” of the estate. Often, the court will appoint a spouse, parent, or adult child of the decedent as the executor.
What Damages Can Be Recovered in Wrongful Death Lawsuits?
The personal representative seeks damages on behalf of the decedent’s surviving dependents and heirs, including the decedent’s surviving spouse or domestic partner, children, parents, and others who were dependent on the decedent prior to death. Damages can also be recovered on behalf of the estate.
In North Carolina, a wrongful death claim can seek the following damages:
- Medical expenses incurred prior to death and associated with the decedent’s treatment for his or her fatal injuries or illness
- “Reasonable” funeral and/or burial costs
- Any pain and suffering knowingly suffered by the decedent prior to death
- Lost income and benefits, such as retirement accounts, pensions, etc.
- Loss of expected inheritance
- The value of household and/or childcare services provided by the decedent prior to death
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of love, society, companionship, guidance, support, etc.
In some cases, it may also be possible to seek punitive damages. These are a special type of damages that are available in some cases in which the defendant’s actions or omissions were egregiously negligent or unlawful. The purpose of punitive damages is to punish the defendant for this behavior. They can also send a message that such conduct will not be tolerated in the future.
How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Paid Out?
A wrongful death settlement can be paid out in one of two ways:
- Structured Settlement - This type of payout provides ongoing payments (usually each month) to the surviving family members, rather than delivering the full amount all at once.
- Lump-Sum Payout - This form of payout (most common with cases that are settled outside of court) provides the family with the full amount in a lump-sum payment. This can be helpful because it allows surviving family members to pay off outstanding debts following their loved one's death.
Who Pays for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
How Our Firm Can Help
Filing a wrongful death lawsuit or seeking damages after the loss of a loved one is often an overwhelming and intimidating process. At Payne Law Firm, we understand what you are going through, and we want to help. Our Charlotte wrongful death lawyer is here to answer your questions and provide the personalized, compassionate guidance you need and deserve. Throughout the entire legal process, we are prepared to aggressively advocate for you and the justice your family is owed.
To learn more about how we can help, please call our office at (704) 461-0053 and request a free and confidential consultation with our wrongful death lawyer in Charlotte, NC.