Winston-Salem Wrongful Death Case Process
A person should work with an experienced wrongful death attorney in Winston-Salem because the damages recoverable are unique to wrongful death cases. It is important to work with an attorney experienced in the wrongful death case process.
Typically loved ones are having to make the final arrangement for their deceased loved one, including funeral and burial expenses. Typically, it is something they were not anticipating to do at that time and it can be stressful, especially when combined with pursuing the wrongful death case.
It is important to know that the trend of Winston-Salem wrongful death cases is that fewer cases are being tried and more cases are being settled.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations for starting the wrongful death case process in Winston-Salem is two years from the date of death or the date of the incident giving rise to the death.
If a person were to die for reasons unrelated to their injuries sustained by someone’s negligence, that is a survival action and that would be the standard three-year statute of limitations.
Effects of Wills and Estates
A will or a trust does not play a role in the wrongful death case process in Winston-Salem because according to the wrongful death statutes in North Carolina, the proceeds do not pass through the decedent’s estate. They pass directly to the heir due to the public policy in North Carolina to provide support to those who were relying on the support of the decedent.
The estate plays a role in the process because only the person who qualifies as the personal representative of the decedent can bring the wrongful death action. The personal representative would have to open an estate file and submit the claim.
This is an additional process that involves paperwork at the courthouse and a personal injury lawyer can either assist in this process directly or refer them to an estate attorney who can take care of the process without adding more difficulty to the grieving loved ones.
To Settle or Go to Court
The benefit of settling a case out of court is that it eliminates any risks associated with taking the case to trial and potentially receiving a less favorable result. The other benefit of settling a case rather than trying it would be not incurring the expenses related to getting a case to trial.
The cost of proceeding to court can be significant if the case includes deposing doctors. Lawyers usually have to get their testimony in the doctor’s office recorded on video because the doctors would prefer not to spend their time waiting in a courtroom and instead treating patients. Deposing a doctor can be very expensive, up to a couple of thousands of dollars per videotaped deposition.
Other experts, like an economist that the wrongful death attorney would want to bring to trial, charge hourly rates and travel fees, which adds to expert-related costs.
The costs of a trial may outweigh the guarantee of a settlement if the settlement offer on the wrongful death claim is ridiculously low.
Importance of a Compassionate Attorney
The biggest thing a compassionate wrongful death attorney can do is to take as much of the burden off of the plate of the family members during that very difficult, personal time as possible and to step in where they can help.
A wrongful death lawyer can help with setting up the estate, comforting the family members, and letting them know that an individual, their attorney, is working on the case to hold those responsible accountable for their actions.
Since only the personal representative of the estate can pursue the wrongful death action, it is usually that same person who has the ability to hire the law firm to pursue the action. Generally speaking, the representative will sign a fee agreement to hire a law firm to pursue the action. In the fee agreement, it sets forth how they will pay attorney fees and costs.