A wrongful death suit happens when someone dies due to the irresponsibility, intentional actions or negligence of another person. When this happens, the surviving loved ones and those who depended on the deceased are entitled to monetary compensation for the losses they suffered. It’s important to know who can file a suit of this sort and who can collect benefits. Here’s a look at filing for wrongful death in North Carolina and South Carolina, and how an attorney can help.
The Wrongful Death Claim
Wrongful death laws cover those who have lost loved ones to the actions or inactions of another, whether deliberate or through gross negligence. In these cases, you may be entitled to compensation for the decedent’s lost wages, lost potential earnings in the future, companionship, medical bills leading up to the death, funerary expenses, pain and suffering and even in some cases punitive damages.
Punitive damages are only awarded in cases where the death was caused by the deliberate actions of another or the conduct that led to the death was truly awful. In North Carolina, the actions have to be labeled as “malice or willful wanton conduct” in order for punitive damages to be awarded.
Who Can File a Claim?
Each state has its own laws for filing these kinds of suits. In North Carolina, a personal representative of the estate must file the claim. This can be an executor, someone appointed by the courts or someone specifically named within the will. This person files the suit on behalf of the surviving heirs and family.
In South Carolina, the executor or administrator of the will is the person who brings the suit. This person is usually named in the estate plan of the deceased, but the courts can appoint an executor or administrator if needed.
Who Benefits from the Claim?
Even though the executor, administrator or personal representative files the lawsuit, they are not the only direct beneficiary (in fact, they may not benefit at all, depending on who they are). Those that benefit from these kinds of suits are surviving spouses and children, parents if there are no children or spouse or any named heirs of the deceased, if there is no immediate family left.
In general, damages are first applied to paying the costs of the suit, then to any attorney’s fees and costs incurred. Third, payment of outstanding bills including funeral and medical bills are covered. Finally, the beneficiaries receive any remaining funs distributed among them.
Wrongful Death Attorneys
It is vital, if you lose a loved one in an accident, to hire the services of a wrongful death attorney. There are a lot of pitfalls and details to this kind of legal action, and only an attorney can ensure that all of your rights are protected and fight to get you the full compensation you deserve to help you recover and get your life back. If find yourself in this situation, read about our services and give us a call to discuss the case today.