Charlotte Wrongful Death Attorney
Fighting for the Family of Wrongful Death Victims in North Carolina
In life, there is nothing more difficult than losing someone you love. While nothing can ever truly “compensate” you for your loss, if your loved one died as a result of someone else’s negligent or wrongful conduct, you deserve justice. By filing a wrongful death lawsuit, you can not only secure the financial recovery you need to manage unexpected costs, but you can also hold the responsible party accountable and get the answers you need.
If you believe that your family member or loved one’s death resulted from another person or party’s negligence or unlawful acts, we invite you to reach out to Payne Law Firm to learn how we can help. As an accomplished and compassionate wrongful death attorney in Charlotte, our founding attorney, Jason E. Payne, understands what you are going through—and he and his team are committed to helping you navigate this process.
On This Page:
- What Makes a Death “Wrongful”
- Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in NC?
- What Damages Can Be Recovered?
- How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Paid Out?
- Who Pays for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
- How Long Do Wrongful Death Cases Take?
North Carolina defines “wrongful death” as any death that occurs “by a wrongful act, neglect, or default of another.” Essentially, when the same grounds for a personal injury lawsuit are met, but the injured party does not survive, certain surviving family members are entitled to bring a wrongful death action.
Wrongful death actions often arise from the following accidents and incidents:
- Car accidents
- Motorcycle crashes
- Large truck collisions
- Bicycle and pedestrian accidents
- Slip and falls
- Defective products
- Bus accidents
- Rideshare (Uber, Lyft, etc.) collisions
- Drunk driving accidents
- Chemical exposure
This list is by no means comprehensive; if your loved one died due to devastating injuries or after any type of accident or traumatic event for which someone else was at fault, you could have grounds for a wrongful death claim.
Under North Carolina law, only the personal representative of the decedent’s estate is permitted to file a wrongful death claim. However, this claim seeks benefits on behalf of certain eligible family members, in addition to the estate itself.
If there is no existing personal representative, as appointed by the decedent prior to death, or if the appointed personal representative is unable or unwilling to act in accordance with his or her duties, the court will appoint one. In such cases, the personal representative is referred to as the “executor” of the estate. Often, the court will appoint a spouse, parent, or adult child of the decedent as the executor.
The personal representative seeks damages on behalf of the decedent’s surviving dependents and heirs, including the decedent’s surviving spouse or domestic partner, children, parents, and others who were dependent on the decedent prior to death. Damages can also be recovered on behalf of the estate.
In North Carolina, a wrongful death claim can seek the following damages:
- Medical expenses incurred prior to death and associated with the decedent’s treatment for his or her fatal injuries or illness
- “Reasonable” funeral and/or burial costs
- Any pain and suffering knowingly suffered by the decedent prior to death
- Lost income and benefits, such as retirement accounts, pensions, etc.
- Loss of expected inheritance
- The value of household and/or childcare services provided by the decedent prior to death
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of love, society, companionship, guidance, support, etc.
In some cases, it may also be possible to seek punitive damages. These are a special type of damages that are available in some cases in which the defendant’s actions or omissions were egregiously negligent or unlawful. The purpose of punitive damages is to punish the defendant for this behavior. They can also send a message that such conduct will not be tolerated in the future.
A wrongful death settlement can be paid out in one of two ways:
- Structured Settlement - This type of payout provides ongoing payments (usually each month) to the surviving family members, rather than delivering the full amount all at once.
- Lump-Sum Payout - This form of payout (most common with cases that are settled outside of court) provides the family with the full amount in a lump-sum payment. This can be helpful because it allows surviving family members to pay off outstanding debts following their loved one's death.
In most cases, the responsible person is rarely the one who pays out the settlement. Usually the insurance company will pay the settlement. This is especially true with wrongful death suits filed against hospitals, businesses, employers, etc. However, there are some situations in which the responsible individual may end up paying on top of the insurance company; this may happen if the settlement amount exceeds policy limits
There is no one-size-fits-all for how long your wrongful death lawsuit may take to resolve. Some claims are able to be resolved within just a few months, while others may take years to successfully resolve. The length of time will depend on several factors:
- How complex your situation is and how long it takes to build a convincing case
- How willing to negotiate the responsible party is
If the other party is unwilling to come to a settlement agreement, your lawyer may need to take your case to court in order to ensure that your family receives justice. If a case goes to court this can significantly increase how long your lawsuit will take. At the end of the day, our goal is to obtain justice on behalf of your lost loved one and your family. We will fight for as long as it takes to achieve that goal.
“Payne Law Firm was invaluable in helping my family navigate the most difficult situation we had ever experienced. Mr. Payne and his entire staff were professional, responsive, and empathetic throughout the entire process.” - Fatimar J.
“My experience with "Payne Law Firm" was extraordinary! They were efficient, professional, and persistent. I have and will continue to recommend “Payne Law Firm” because you are treated like family!” - Sheori S.
“My experience at Payne Law Firm was very pleasant. I had no worries at all. He was there for everything I needed help with.” - Gloria J.
“I have used Payne Law Firm services on several different occasions and have always been pleased with the outcomes.” - Leonard J.
“Payne Law Firm calmed my fears and assisted with easing my pain, by always being available to answer my questions, calming my fears, explaining the law to me in layman’s terms, while offering comfort and support.” - Joyre T.
Filing a wrongful death lawsuit or seeking damages after the loss of a loved one is often an overwhelming and intimidating process. At Payne Law Firm, we understand what you are going through, and we want to help. Our Charlotte wrongful death lawyer is here to answer your questions and provide the personalized, compassionate guidance you need and deserve. Throughout the entire legal process, we are prepared to aggressively advocate for you and the justice your family is owed.
Client-FocusedWe will help you every step of the way, providing answers to your questions and continuing to update you on the status of your case.
A History of SuccessWe have helped over a thousand injured individuals and families get the compensation they deserved.
Battle-TestedWe not only understand the complexities of insurance companies but know how to fight them.
Full TransparencyOur team knows the importance of your case and is committed to doing what is best for you.