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Who Gets the Money in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in NC?

If you have lost a loved one in an accident, you should promptly consult a wrongful death attorney in Raleigh NC. Understanding your legal rights is important. Although no legal action can bring a beloved family member back, a wrongful death claim can help you and your loved ones recover the compensation you deserve for such a tragic loss.

One of the most important questions in any wrongful death case is who receives the money. Like most states, North Carolina law specifies not only who can file a wrongful death lawsuit but how the proceeds are distributed in the event of a recovery.

A wrongful death attorney in Raleigh NC can pursue the compensation you and your family deserve. Call the Whitley Law Firm at (919) 785-5000 today for a FREE consultation.

Are Family Members Entitled to Compensation for Wrongful Death in North Carolina?

To explain how North Carolina law distributes compensation from wrongful death claims, we first need to explain how wrongful death claims work. Under North Carolina law, individual family members cannot file wrongful death claims directly. Instead, the victim’s personal representative must file a claim on behalf of the victim’s estate.

1. Wrongful Death Compensation Goes to the Heirs, But It Does Not Pass Through an Estate

The personal representative is responsible for filing the estate’s wrongful death lawsuit. However, this does not mean that the personal representative is entitled to the full share of compensation.

As mentioned above, the personal representative files the lawsuit on behalf of the victim’s estate. Any jury award or settlement, however, is not an asset of the estate. The personal representative might be entitled to a portion of the settlement or verdict as one of the victim’s heirs, but this has nothing to do with his or her role in filing the lawsuit.

2. Regardless Of a Will, North Carolina Law Dictates Who Gets Wrongful Death Monies

In North Carolina, even if a person dies with an estate plan in place, the distribution of wrongful death compensation is still based on the state’s wrongful death law.

North Carolina General Statutes § 29-14 imposes the following order for how proceeds from a wrongful death claim must be distributed:

  • The surviving spouse
  • The child or children of the deceased
  • The deceased’s grandchild or grandchildren
  • The surviving parent or parents
  • A sibling or siblings of the deceased

Not all family members are entitled to compensation in all cases. Additionally, the amount each family member is entitled to depends on who else is entitled to a share of the victim’s intestate estate.

As you can see, distributing wrongful death compensation gets complicated quickly. There are special rules and exceptions that apply in various circumstances. To find out who would be entitled to a share of the money from the wrongful death lawsuit, you will need to discuss your situation with an attorney.

Contact a Wrongful Death Attorney Raleigh NC Today

Losing a loved one due to the negligence of another is devastating. In addition to grief, the unexpected death of a family member can leave you with enormous financial burdens.

You and your family may be entitled to significant compensation for the wrongful death of a relative. An experienced wrongful death attorney can seek full recovery of your losses and explain how the money will be distributed.

The Whitley Law Firm handles wrongful death claims on behalf of clients in Raleigh, Kinston, New Bern, and throughout North Carolina. Contact us today to discuss your case for FREE.