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Wrongful deaths can be caused by negligence or wrongful acts, and happen most often due to car crashes, accidents at work, medical care mistakes, defective products, or violent crimes. A life taken unexpectedly can leave a massive hole in both a family and their finances, but the law in New Bern allows wrongful death lawsuits to recover monetary damages in civil court action.

A New Bern wrongful death lawyer who has extensive experience handling these cases and winning compensation for eligible survivors may be able to help you with your claim. Discuss your case with an experienced personal injury attorney to learn about your legal rights as a loved one.

What is Required to File a Wrongful Death Claim?

A wrongful death lawsuit centers on the wrongful act that caused the death. To win a wrongful death case centered around a negligent act, all elements of the applicable law need to be proven by a preponderance of the evidence.

The person alleged to have caused the death must have had a legal duty of care not to cause harm to the deceased person. For example, every motorist on any road has a duty of care to act reasonably around other motorists. Failing that duty must constitute a breach—the second legal element of negligence. The breach must be the proximate cause of the death itself and must have led to verifiable financial losses.

A wrongful death stemming from an intentional act may also be adjudicated under criminal law with the same elements of proof, although a judge determines if the defendant had a duty of care in wrongful death actions. The loved ones of the individual who has passed due to unjust causes should speak with a New Bern wrongful death lawyer about their case.

Allowable Damages for Families and Loved Ones

Those who are eligible to receive damages in New Bern wrongful death cases are surviving spouses, minor children, and the parents of a deceased child. As a New Bern wrongful death lawyer knows, adult children generally are not entitled to compensation.

The state is specific in allowable damages. Included are:

  • All medical care, hospitalization, fair funeral expenses incurred, and pain and suffering the decedent experienced before death
  • Emotional trauma, loss of services, and loss of companionship experienced by a surviving spouse; minor children may claim loss of companionship and support
  • Emotional trauma and loss of companionship experienced by the parents of a deceased child
  • Loss of income the deceased would have earned
  • Punitive damages meant to punish the offender, if the wrongful act or negligence that caused the death was egregious

Procedures for Filing a Wrongful Death Claim

A wrongful death claim filed in New Bern, North Carolina must be submitted by a representative of the deceased. If the deceased had an estate plan that names a representative, that person is eligible to advocate on behalf of the deceased in a wrongful death case if they choose to do so. If the deceased does not have a named representative, the court will assign one—usually a family member.

The person named, called an executor or executrix of the deceased’s estate, may file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the decedent’s estate if one exists. This person also represents the needs and interests of eligible surviving family members.

Under North Carolina’s statute of limitations, a wrongful death claim must be filed within two years of the decedent’s death or the discovery of the wrongful death. Failure to meet this deadline can forever prevent a claim for the matter from being filed. A New Bern wrongful death lawyer could aggressively pursue your case at trial or serve as a staunch advocate in negotiations for a settlement.