When a person dies, another person could potentially file a wrongful death lawsuit on his or her behalf. This is generally true if the death is the result of another party’s negligence. In some cases, the family of a victim can pursue both criminal and civil penalties against a defendant. Prior to filing a suit in North Carolina, an individual needs to determine if he or she has the standing to take legal action.
In some cases, only the executor or personal representative of the deceased person’s estate can file a wrongful death lawsuit. The statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit is generally two to three years from the date the victim died. However, the statute of limitations clock may not start to run until the discovery of harm occurs.
The wrongful death process starts by filing a complaint with the proper court. All parties to the lawsuit will be given a copy of the complaint, why the complaint is being filed and where the case will be heard. If a claim is successful, it may be possible to obtain damages such as medical bills and final expenses. It might also be possible to collect lost future earnings related to the person’s untimely passing.
Those who are involved in fatal accidents may be held liable for damages. An attorney could determine if a victim has standing to pursue legal action in a wrongful death matter. Legal counsel may also be able to ensure that a lawsuit is filed prior to the statute of limitations expires. It is important to know that a civil case could still be settled outside of court even after a lawsuit is filed.