No matter the amount of compensation, monetary damages will never make up for the death of a family member. Even so, North Carolina law allows a family to hold legally responsible any person who negligently causes a death. Whether it’s a large corporation, drunk driver, or other negligent individuals, the person who caused your family member’s death can be required to compensate your family for your loss in a wrongful death case.
When Maginnis Howard accepts a wrongful death case, we do so with two objectives. First, we want to ensure that the negligent person is held to account and that they understand the significant loss they have caused. We also want to help the family financially get back to normal. In many cases, this means recovering a husband, wife, or parent’s lost income or the medical bills incurred in treating the injuries.
In every wrongful death case, there are two primary issues. The first is whether the defendant is liable, meaning whether the defendant was negligent and whether their negligence caused the death. Proving negligence is not always straightforward. Wrongful death cases tend to involve significant litigation, including countless depositions and hiring costly experts such as engineers and economists. For this reason, the Estate must have counsel.
If you can establish liability, the next question is what “damages” the Estate may recover under North Carolina’s wrongful death statute, NCGS § 28A-18.2. Those damages include compensation for the physical and emotional pain and suffering of the deceased, their medical expenses, and funeral expenses. The estate’s beneficiaries may also recover the present monetary value of the reasonably expected “net income” of the deceased family member. This is important when a working father or mother has been killed.
Finally, North Carolina’s wrongful death statute also takes into consideration the emotional loss sustained by the family. While placing an exact monetary figure on such losses can be challenging, it is something juries are asked to do. A jury is entitled to award as compensation money damage for the “services, protection, care and assistance” of the family member and the “society, companionship, comfort, guidance, kindly offices and advice of the decedent.” This is particularly important as it allows the jury to send a message to the defendant about the emotional loss they have caused.
We provide free consultations to family members investigating a wrongful death claim. We have three conveniently located offices across the state in Raleigh, Charlotte, and Fayetteville. To schedule a free consultation, call our firm or email us using our contact page. Our attorneys often travel to meet clients if they cannot come to our offices.
For wrongful death cases, our firm offers a contingency fee arrangement. This means that unless we recover a verdict or settlement on behalf of the beneficiaries, you do not owe any attorneys’ fees. We travel across the state of North Carolina to meet with potential clients.