State statutes explain in detail who gets the money in a wrongful death lawsuit in North Carolina. Wrongful death damages follow the state’s intestate laws regarding the distribution of estate assets. Specifically, G.S. § 29-14 outlines that the surviving spouse and children split these damages. If there is no surviving spouse, damages are divided among the surviving children or grandchildren.
If there is no surviving spouse, children, or grandchildren, damages pass to other family members in the order outlined in G.S. § 29-15. These may include:
- Aunts and uncles
In This Article
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in North Carolina?
While qualifying family members and dependents can collect damages, strict rules exist for who can file a wrongful death claim. In North Carolina, G.S. § 28A-18-2 dictates that only a decedent’s personal representative qualifies to initiate a claim.
The decedent generally selects this representative in their will. Otherwise, individuals can apply for the role, and the court will choose who to appoint. According to estate procedures from the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts, qualifying individuals include:
- A surviving spouse
- Next of kin
- Anyone the decedent left property to in their will
- Anyone who qualifies to receive property if there is no will
- Creditors left with the decedent’s outstanding debts
- An individual from the county with “good character”
Once appointed, the personal representative can seek various damages for the decedent’s death on behalf of all other eligible beneficiaries. However, many choose to hire a wrongful death lawyer to handle these proceedings while taking care of their loved one’s estate affairs.
For a legal consultation, call 828.286.3866
What Types of Damages Can Surviving Family Members Recover in a Wrongful Death Case?
Wrongful death cases are possible when the decedent could have qualified to seek damages had they survived. As a result, many of the same damages are recoverable.
G.S. § 28A-18-2 outlines economic and non-economic damages your family could recover through a wrongful death case.
Economic Damages Cover Outstanding Expenses and Future Losses
Depending on the circumstances of your loved one’s death, your family could be facing multiple bills and expenses. You may also experience a loss in household income, making it difficult to pay these bills and make ends meet. As such, North Carolina allows you to seek compensation for:
- Hospitalization and treatment your loved one received for the injury before death
- Funeral services and related expenses
- Loss of “reasonably expected” income
The value of your economic damages is determined by bills, receipts, invoices, and other documents.
Note: Per the estate procedures, the estate may also retain some damages to pay for the legal expenses incurred during the wrongful death lawsuit.
Non-Economic Damages Address the Pain of Losing a Loved One
Losing a loved one unexpectedly has many consequences for a family, and not all of them are financial. Along with economic damages, you could recover compensation for:
- Your loved one’s pain and suffering from the injury
- Loss of “reasonably expected” services and protection
- Loss of guidance, comfort, and companionship
Calculating the value of non-economic damages takes more care and consideration, which is why many families hire a wrongful death attorney to represent them.
How Can a Wrongful Death Lawyer Help Me?
Retaining our firm to represent you means our lawyers will handle your wrongful death lawsuit from start to finish. Your family should not have to deal with the legal system alone, so our team will:
- Investigate the circumstances that led to your loved one’s untimely passing
- Collect evidence that points to the liable parties
- Construct a case to prove your family’s right to damages
- Prepare you for any appearances you have to make
- Submit paperwork and speak on your behalf
- Calculate how much your wrongful death suit is worth
- Advocate for your family at all levels throughout the process
You deserve to have someone fighting in your corner when another party’s negligence harms your family. Our team wants to provide that compassionate legal support for your family.
Contact Our Firm to Get Help with Your Wrongful Death Case Today
Our team at Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC, serves victims and surviving family members across North Carolina. We have offices in Rutherfordton, Shelby, and Morganton. When you retain us to represent you, we can explain who gets the money in a wrongful death lawsuit and help your family navigate the filing process.
You do not have to hold the liable party responsible on your own. Our attorneys would be honored to advocate for your family while you mourn this loss. Call (828) 286-3866 to speak with a team member in a free consultation today.