Goldsboro Wrongful Death Attorney
Dealing with the death of a loved one is never easy
If you lost your loved one unnecessarily as the result of the negligence of another, then the grieving process may be even more complicated. In legal terms, “wrongful death” means that the death was preventable and happened at the hands of another due to carelessness or negligence. Simply stated, your loved one should be alive right now. However, the personal injury lawyers can help get the justice your lost loved one deserves.
Our wrongful death attorneys and staff understand the very sensitive nature of these cases. We treat every fatal accident claim with respect and always honor our clients’ wishes regarding the case. With more than 160 years combined legal experience, our wrongful death attorneys can help you determine the best course of action in your individual situation. We strive to get you the compensation you deserve for your loss by aggressively pursuing a fair recovery. We can answer your questions about wrongful death claims and explain your legal options.
Important Wrongful Death Resources
- Frequently Asked Questions – Please visit our FAQ page and learn how we can help you with your wrongful death law today! Get Answers
- Claims That We Handle – We are here to provide you with the most effective and aggressive representation possible. See More Claims
- Clients’ Testimonials – Read more from our client testimonials. Read More
What are the Most Common Causes of Wrongful Death?
Wrongful deaths can occur from virtually any kind of accident. However, some of the most common causes of wrongful death include:
- Car accidents and other motor vehicle crashes. Drunk drivers and distracted driving are major causes of fatal car accidents.
- Truck accidents. Truck accidents are more likely to cause the wrongful death of other motorists, cyclists and pedestrians due to the size and weight of the truck.
- Medical malpractice. According to some studies, medical malpractice is the third leading cause of death in the U.S.
- Defective products. Defective medication, medical devices and other consumer products may cause wrongful death or fatal illness.
- Boating accidents. A boating accident may carry a higher risk of wrongful death due to the likelihood of drowning deaths.
- Slip and fall accidents. Slip and fall accidents are among the leading causes of death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Filing a successful wrongful death claim can be complex. Therefore, it is important to have an experienced wrongful death lawyer who can guide you through the process. At Riddle & Brantley, we will explain the specifics of filing a claim and answer all your questions so you can make informed decisions moving forward.
What is the North Carolina Wrongful Death Statute?
North Carolina law includes a specific statute addressing wrongful deaths. The statute is N.C.G.S. § 28A-18.2. Under these provisions, you typically set up an estate with the clerk’s office after a loved one’s wrongful death. This estate should be created in the county of your loved one’s residency. If your loved one has a will, then the will may determine who will serve as administrator of the estate. Generally, the spouse or an adult child serves as the administrator. In that process of setting up an estate, the next of kin will be named as possible beneficiaries of any proceeds from a wrongful death action.
The estate serves as the entity that has the right and ability to pursue the legal action. The administrator of the estate is the one who has the right to retain a wrongful death lawyer for the estate and all possible beneficiaries. The estate may recover money damages on behalf of the loved one and his or her surviving next of kin or beneficiaries.
It is important to note that any recovery from a wrongful death claim is not considered an asset of the estate. Therefore, it is not subject to payment of other debts of the estate.
It is also important to understand that one of the major differences between wrongful death cases and personal injury claims is that the statute of limitations is different. In North Carolina, the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim is two years. By contrast, you have three years to file a personal injury case.
What Damages are Available in a Wrongful Death Claim?
The damages recoverable in a wrongful death case are as follows, according to North Carolina statutes:
- Expenses for medical care, treatment and hospitalization.
- Pain and suffering. This concerns the nature, extent and degree of injury, and the length of time your loved one endured this pain.
- Reasonable funeral expenses. At Riddle & Brantley, we have never encountered an issue with determining if an amount is “reasonable”.
- Present monetary value of your deceased loved one to the next of kin. This is the most difficult damage to determine because no life can easily be measured by money. The law contains no fixed formula and jury instructions state that the application of logic and common sense should determine fair compensation. However, the North Carolina wrongful death statute provides some guidance, and the court typically considers:
- The net income that the loved one would have earned during his or her lifetime.
- The services, care, protection and assistance he or she may have given to the next of kin.
- Society and companionship, as well as comfort and guidance for his or her next of kin. In determining these values, the courts must consider your loved one’s life expectancy. We can estimate life expectancy using predetermined tables set forth in our rules of evidence. Clearly, these calculations can be difficult. Thus, on occasion we must hire an economic expert to help calculate and potentially testify regarding these calculations.
Our most challenging and difficult wrongful death cases involve the deaths of children and young parents because of the severity of the permanent emotional impact on the parents, children, and other loving family members. No amount of money can replace a life. However, we work hard to find all possible avenues of compensation to help you hold the negligent party accountable.
At Riddle & Brantley, our lawyers understand the difficulty of losing a loved one. We can help you hold the negligent or careless person or entity that caused the fatal accident accountable for your loved one’s death. We can work on your behalf to achieve the maximum compensation available to your family, because Justice Counts©.
Located in Goldsboro, Raleigh, Kinston, and Jacksonville, North Carolina, our wrongful death attorneys are able to help families that have lost a loved one throughout the entire state, and elsewhere as needed. If you wish to learn more about your legal options, then please call us at (919) 778-9700 or complete a free case evaluation. Get the help you need, TODAY!