Wrongful Death

High Point Wrongful Death Attorneys

If you have lost a loved one through someone else’s negligence, no amount of money can ever compensate you for your loss. A wrongful death claim is a legal means to seek justice for your loved one and to help protect your family financially. By holding responsible parties accountable, it can also help prevent similar negligence in the future.

A wrongful death claim can arise when the person who died would have had a valid personal injury claim had he or she lived. Damages in a wrongful death case go to the surviving beneficiaries and dependents of the person who was killed. 

What Are the Causes of Wrongful Death?

When someone’s negligent or wrongful actions cause the death of a person, it can give rise to a wrongful death claim. 

Common causes of wrongful death include:

  • Motor vehicle accidents: People die in car accidents, truck accidents, and motorcycle accidents every day. Pedestrians and cyclists run the risk of being hit and killed by motor vehicles. Most motor vehicle accidents involve some type of driver negligence. If the driver who caused the fatal crash was driving distracted or under the influence of alcohol or drugs, running a red light, or driving recklessly, you may have a claim for wrongful death.
  • Medical malpractice: Medical error is a leading cause of injury and death in the U.S. In the most recent year for which data is available, insurance companies paid $4,396,505,050 in medical malpractice claims, as reported by Diederich Healthcare. Of that sum, 28% was for medical errors resulting in death.
  • Defective products: When a defective product causes the death of a person, it can give rise to a wrongful death claim. Types of products commonly involved in wrongful death lawsuits include automobiles, auto parts, medical devices, power tools, kitchen appliances, children’s products, machinery, industrial products, and dangerous drugs. 
  • Violent crime: When assault and battery results in death or a person is intentionally murdered, the perpetrator may face criminal charges. Surviving family members of the deceased person may also bring a wrongful death claim for damages against the accused in civil court. 

What Is Required to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in North Carolina?

You must file a wrongful death claim within the time limit imposed by law, known as the statute of limitations. In North Carolina, it is two years from the date of death in most cases. A personal representative must be appointed for the estate of the deceased. 

For a wrongful death claim to exist:

  • A person’s death must have been caused by another person’s negligence or intent to cause the deceased person harm; and
  • There must have been monetary injuries to surviving family members related to the death. 

Who Can Share in a Recovery for Wrongful Death?

Only certain individuals are entitled to share in a settlement or award for wrongful death. 

North Carolina follows the law of intestate succession:

  • With a surviving spouse alone, the spouse gets the entire recovery.
  • For a surviving spouse and one child, each receives half.
  • For a spouse and two or more children, the spouse receives one-third of the recovery, and the children divide the remaining two-thirds equally.
  • If the deceased person left no surviving spouse or children, the parents are entitled to the recovery.
  • If there were no surviving spouse, children, or parents, surviving brothers and sisters of the deceased may receive the settlement or award. 

Contact Comerford Chilson & Moser at (336) 568-8779 to schedule a free consultation if you believe you may have a wrongful death claim. Our High Point wrongful death lawyers can tell you if you have a case and what damages your family may be entitled to receive. 

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