In North Carolina, wrongful death is defined as a death caused by a wrongful act, negligence, or default of another person. When this type of death occurs, the personal representative of the deceased victim’s estate may file a civil claim seeking damages for the wrongful death.
Even if the actions which resulted in the victim’s death also meet one or more of North Carolina’s legal definitions of a felony, the state’s law specifies that that kind of death claim may be brought to court. While a criminal case is filed with a prosecuting attorney, a civil case may be filed while the criminal case is already proceeding on the same set of facts.
Who Can File a File a Wrongful Death Claim in North Carolina?
The personal representative – also known as the executor or executrix – of the deceased individual’s estate must file the claim in court. The wrongful death claim may seek monetary damages on behalf of both the estate and surviving family members.
If the deceased person had already established an estate plan, he or she might have already named a personal representative within the details of the plan. The individual who is named as the personal representative may serve that role if he or she agrees to do so, and the court agrees to the appointment.
If the individual named in the state plan cannot, or will not, serve as personal representative, or if no estate plan exists, the court will appoint another person. Surviving spouses, adult children, or parents are common options for a personal representative.
The statute of limitations sets a time limit for filing a wrongful death claim in court. In North Carolina, wrongful death claims must be filed within two years of the date of the deceased individual’s death.
If you suffered the loss of a loved one due to the negligence of another party, contact our Durham + Raleigh personal injury lawyers at Hyland + Padilla, PLLC today. 50+ years of collective legal experience!