What should you know about wrongful death claims?

On Behalf of | Dec 10, 2021 | Wrongful Death |

When someone causes the premature death of a loved one, it’s only natural to want justice. However, most wrongful deaths aren’t criminal cases. Even when the police pursue charges, that may not feel like enough.

Those are the situations when a wrongful death claim might help. While nothing will bring back your loved one, a wrongful death claim can help provide financial security for your family and hold the responsible party accountable for their actions.

How is a wrongful death claim different from a criminal case?

Loosely defined, a wrongful death is any death that is caused by someone’s negligent, reckless and/or intentional behavior.

A wrongful death can be caused by things like a doctor’s failure to recognize cancer symptoms when they see them, the slip of a surgeon’s knife, a drunk driver’s decision to get behind the wheel of a car or a manufacturer’s decision to skimp on a product’s quality controls – among other things.

When a death is considered a criminal matter (like when a drunk driver causes a fatal crash), the authorities may very well pursue charges. However, they do so on behalf of the state, not the victim’s grieving loved ones.

A wrongful death claim is a civil claim. As such, the standard of proof to prove your claim is lower than that of a criminal case. You need only prove that the defendant more likely than not caused your loved one’s death to win.

What are the time limits on a wrongful death claim in North Carolina?

You have two years from the date of your loved one’s death to pursue a claim. In this state, the only person who has the right to pursue the claim is the personal representative of the deceased’s estate. If the victim died without a will, the court can appoint someone to the position. If you’ve suffered a tragic loss, find out more about your legal options as soon as possible.