Losing a loved one is among the most difficult of all human experiences. When the death comes about as a result of a reckless, intentional, or negligent act, it leaves the family traumatized, desperate for answers, and in emotional turmoil. The guilty party may be facing criminal charges or disciplinary actions for what occurred, but the close family can seek justice in civil court through filing a wrongful death lawsuit.

Why file a wrongful death lawsuit?

After the untimely death of a close family member caused by an act of negligence, the family often faces a range of financial and emotional damages. A wrongful death claim is filed to pursue financial compensation for these damages.  The administrator or executor of a deceased person’s estate can bring a lawsuit to recover damages on behalf of the grieving family.

After losing a loved one, it may be difficult to consider the legal aspects of the situation. At Tin Fulton Walker & Owen, PLLC, we represent families suffering from this tragic situation and manage every aspect of the claim or lawsuit. It may be important to engage our services soon after the death to ensure we have the ability to gather and preserve the critical evidence, interview eyewitnesses, and other legal actions that may be required in filing a claim or lawsuit.

Wrongful death cases: The process in North Carolina

A wrongful death claim is a specific type of personal injury case. As the person died as the result of the injuries suffered, these cases allow the family to seek compensation from the responsible party. The North Carolina statute of limitations allows for two years from the time of death to file a wrongful death claim, after which, in almost all cases, the family is forever barred from seeking compensation. The process involves several steps:

  • Opening an estate, since the estate representative has the right to bring the case. (Although the representative brings the case, any proceeds are divided based on the Intestate Succession Act, which governs how a deceased person’s assets pass outside of a will)
  • A full investigation into the facts in the case is conducted, and all relevant evidence gathered and preserved, and the scope of the financial damages evaluated by financial experts.
  • A lawsuit is filed in civil court, which reveals all the relevant facts.
  • A fair settlement may be negotiated before trial. 
  • At trial, the facts are presented by the lawyers representing the family, challenged by the opposing attorney. 
  • The jury makes a decision based on the “preponderance of evidence.” Your attorney must prove that it is “more likely than not” that the defendant in the lawsuit is liable.
Banner background for client

What damages can be sought in a wrongful death case in North Carolina?

A range of losses can be sought in a wrongful death claim, including but not limited to:

  • All medical expenses incurred by the decedent prior to death
  • Burial and funeral costs
  • Income losses related to the estimated income the deceased person would have made over a normal lifetime
  • Loss of any inheritance related to the death
  • Damages associated with the loss of the services to the family provided by the deceased person
  • Damages for the loss of companionship, guidance, and support
  • Loss of consortium (love, affection, companionship, and intimate relations)

Schedule A Consultation

704-338-1220 Contact Us

Proving a wrongful death case: The elements.

Four elements must be present for a successful wrongful death case, as is true in all personal injury cases:

  • Duty of care: It must be established that the responsible party owed the deceased person a “duty of care.” This is the legal duty a person holds to refrain from actions that could reasonably be expected to cause another person harm. In a car accident, for example, it must be established that the person responsible for the accident engaged in driving conduct that had predictable consequences, such as driving drunk, driving while texting, speeding, or other negligent driving conduct.
  • Breach of duty of care: It must be proven that the defendant breached the duty of care in their actions.
  • Causation: It must be proven that the negligent, reckless, or intentional actions of the defendant caused the harm and the eventual death of the individual.
  • Damages: Your attorney must prove that damages exist in the case.  

Why choose Tin Fulton Walker & Owen, PLLC?

The quality, experience, and track record of your attorney could not be more important in a wrongful death case. Our approach involves extensive case preparation, including calling on resources such as financial experts, accident investigators, or others who may be relevant to the case. We have achieved a reputation as being among the most powerful, effective law firms in North Carolina. Our attorneys have dedicated their professional lives to pursuing justice for people from all walks of life.

Random picture

Wrongful death cases can be challenging, particularly deaths due to medical malpractice. Our firm is recognized for having a track record of success in high-profile, difficult cases and is one of North Carolina’s leading law firms. We are listed as one of “America’s Best Law Firms” by U.S. News and World Report, and many of our lawyers are recognized in peer-reviewed surveys as elite litigators in their respective fields and are respected members of the legal community, locally and nationally. Contact us today to discuss your case. 

Banner background for client

© Tin Fulton Walker & Owen. All Rights Reserved. Web Design & Internet Marketing by Studio III

Contact Us