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When someone in Fayetteville suffers injuries caused by another person, such as in a car accident with a negligent driver, that person usually has the opportunity to sue the responsible party to recover compensation for the effects of the accident. When the injured person dies, either immediately or later due to injuries suffered in the accident, the right to seek compensation does not disappear. Instead, it converts to the opportunity to file a wrongful death claim.

If a loved one in your family suffered an untimely death that may have been caused by the negligence or deliberate wrongdoing of another, consider consulting a Fayetteville wrongful death lawyer. A passionate and determined personal injury attorney who understands wrongful death claims could assist with investigation, advise you of your options, and advocate on your behalf to help you achieve the right outcome for your family.

The State Wrongful Death Statute

Section 28A-18-2 of the North Carolina code provides for legal claims when “the death of a person is caused by a wrongful act, neglect or default of another” if the deceased person would have been entitled to bring an action themselves had the action not caused their death. This statute specifies that the claim should be brought by the personal representative or collector of the deceased person.

In most cases, this is someone designated by the court to manage the estate of the deceased person and finalize their affairs, such as paying outstanding bills and distributing assets according to a will or terms set forth in state law. The personal representative may recover compensation for family members and for the estate itself. Certain amounts go to cover expenses such as burial costs, attorneys’ fees, and medical bills.

Potential Recoverable Compensation in Fayetteville

The wrongful death statute allows for recovery of monetary compensation (often referred to as “damages”) for various consequences of the death. These include amounts for:

  • Medical bills related to the injury that caused the death
  • Pain and suffering the deceased person endured before death
  • Funeral expenses
  • Loss of financial support to family members that the deceased person formerly provided
  • Loss of the services, protection, and care formerly provided by the deceased person
  • Loss of the guidance and companionship formerly provided by the deceased person

In rare situations, a court may also award punitive damages which are not intended to compensate those suffering the loss but to punish those responsible for causing that loss. Punitive damages are available when death is caused “through malice or willful or wanton conduct.”

Time is of the Essence in a Wrongful Death Situation

There are several reasons why it is wise to contact a Fayetteville wrongful death attorney soon after a death that may have been due to the negligence of another. Two primary reasons are the statute of limitations and the collection of evidence.

A statute of limitations gives those intending to file legal action a limited amount of time in which to act. If they fail to file within the limit, generally a case will be dismissed.

In a wrongful death situation, the limitations law can be complicated. The claim must be brought within two years of the date of death, but also within the time limit allowed for the underlying injury that gave rise to the lawsuit, which is usually three years. So, for instance, if a person was injured in a car accident and lingered in a coma for a time before dying, the lawsuit would have to be filed within three years of the date of the accident, even if that is less than two years after the date of death.

Working with a Fayetteville Wrongful Death Attorney

If you are not certain whether a death in the family may be a wrongful death, or whether taking legal action would be appropriate under the circumstances, it is often wise to consult a Fayetteville wrongful death lawyer for guidance. A knowledgeable attorney could answer your questions and help you determine the right course of action.

A lawyer who understands wrongful death claims may help investigate the situation to give you peace of mind. To learn more about your options, call now.