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.