Representing the Estate and Family Members of the Deceased
No matter the amount of compensation, money 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 individual, the person who caused your family member’s death can be required to pay money damages 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 he or she understands the significant loss they have caused. We also want to help the family financially get back to normal. In many cases, this means recovering the lost income of a husband, wife, or parent, or recovering 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 did his/her negligence cause the death. Proving negligence is not always simple. Wrongful death cases tend to involve significant litigation, including countless depositions and the hiring of costly experts such as engineers and economists. For this reason, it is important the Estate 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, his or her medical expenses, and the funeral expenses. The beneficiaries of the estate 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 it can be difficult to place an exact monetary figure on such losses, 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 he or she has caused.
We provide free consultations to family members investigating a wrongful death claim. While our office is located centrally in Raleigh, we represent North Carolinians across the state. To schedule a free consultation, just call our firm or send an email using our contact page.
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.