Frequently Asked Questions About Wrongful Death Claims

Losing a loved one is an incredibly painful experience, especially when their death is caused by the negligence or wrongful actions of another. Wrongful death claims are a way to seek justice and compensation for the surviving family members. At Kellum Law Firm, we understand the complexities of these cases and are here to help you through every step of the process. Below, we have compiled 20 unique and interesting FAQs to provide a valuable resource for those seeking information about wrongful death claims.

get justice for victims of wrongful death

North Carolina law defines a “wrongful death” as one that is caused “by a wrongful act, neglect, or default of another” person or entity, of a kind that would have entitled the person to file a personal injury lawsuit if he or she had survived. (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 28A-18-2 (2021).)

1. What is a wrongful death claim?

A wrongful death claim is a legal action taken by the survivors of an individual who has died due to the negligent, reckless, or intentional actions of another party. The purpose is to seek compensation for the loss and its impact on the survivors.

2. Who can file a wrongful death claim in North Carolina?

In North Carolina, only the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate can file a wrongful death claim. This is typically a close family member such as a spouse, parent, or child, but it could also be someone named as the executor in the deceased’s will.

3. What damages can be recovered in a wrongful death claim?

Damages that can be recovered include medical and funeral expenses, loss of income, loss of companionship, pain and suffering of the deceased prior to death, and punitive damages in cases of egregious misconduct.

4. How long do I have to file a wrongful death claim in North Carolina?

In North Carolina, the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim is two years from the date of death. It’s crucial to act within this timeframe to preserve your right to seek compensation.

5. What is the difference between a wrongful death claim and a survival action?

A wrongful death claim seeks compensation for the survivors’ losses due to the death, while a survival action seeks damages that the deceased could have claimed if they had survived, such as pain and suffering and lost wages from the time of injury until death.

6. Can a wrongful death attorney help with insurance companies?

Yes, a wrongful death attorney can handle communications with insurance companies, negotiate settlements, and ensure that your rights are protected throughout the process.

7. What evidence is needed to prove a wrongful death claim?

Evidence typically includes medical records, accident reports, witness statements, expert testimonies, and any other documentation that can demonstrate the defendant’s liability and the extent of the survivors’ losses.

8. Are wrongful death claims only related to car accidents?

No, wrongful death claims can arise from various situations, including medical malpractice, workplace accidents, defective products, criminal activities, and more.

9. What is the average settlement for a wrongful death claim?

The settlement amount varies widely depending on the specifics of the case, such as the circumstances of the death, the age and income of the deceased, and the impact on the survivors. A wrongful death attorney can provide a more accurate estimate based on your case.

10. Can punitive damages be awarded in a wrongful death claim?

Yes, punitive damages can be awarded in cases where the defendant’s actions were particularly reckless or intentional, serving to punish the wrongdoer and deter similar behavior in the future.

11. How is fault determined in a wrongful death case?

Fault is determined through evidence collection and analysis, which may include police reports, eyewitness accounts, expert opinions, and accident reconstruction. The goal is to establish that the defendant’s actions directly caused the death.

12. Can a wrongful death claim be settled out of court?

Yes, many wrongful death claims are settled out of court through negotiations between the parties involved. A wrongful death attorney can help facilitate these negotiations to achieve a fair settlement.

13. What if the deceased was partially at fault for the accident?

In North Carolina, contributory negligence rules apply, meaning if the deceased is found to be even partially at fault, it could bar recovery. However, each case is unique, and a wrongful death attorney can provide guidance based on specific circumstances.

14. Can multiple parties be held liable in a wrongful death claim?

Yes, if multiple parties contributed to the wrongful death, each can be held liable. For instance, in a car accident involving multiple vehicles, each negligent driver may be responsible for a portion of the damages.

15. How does a wrongful death attorney charge for their services?

Most wrongful death attorneys, including those at Kellum Law Firm, work on a contingency fee basis. This means you only pay legal fees if you win the case, with the fees being a percentage of the settlement or judgment.

16. What steps should I take after a loved one’s wrongful death?

Contacting a wrongful death attorney should be one of your first steps. Additionally, gather any relevant documentation, such as medical records, accident reports, and witness information. Do not speak to insurance companies without legal advice.

17. How long does it take to resolve a wrongful death claim?

The duration of a wrongful death claim can vary significantly. Some cases are resolved in a few months, while others may take several years, especially if they go to trial. Your wrongful death attorney can give you a better idea of the timeline based on your case.

18. Can a wrongful death claim include non-economic damages?

Yes, non-economic damages, such as loss of companionship, emotional distress, and loss of consortium, can be included in a wrongful death claim. These damages compensate for the intangible losses suffered by the survivors.

19. What role does a wrongful death attorney play in the trial?

If your case goes to trial, your wrongful death attorney will represent you in court, presenting evidence, questioning witnesses, and making legal arguments to establish liability and the extent of your losses.

20. Can I still file a wrongful death claim if there is a criminal case?

Yes, a wrongful death claim is a civil action and can be pursued independently of any criminal proceedings related to the death. Even if the defendant is acquitted in criminal court, you can still seek compensation through a civil wrongful death claim.

elder abuse in care homes and nursing homes

Wrongful Death Cases Relating to Elder Neglect and Elder Abuse

Elder neglect and abuse in nursing homes and elder care facilities is a serious and tragic issue that often leads to wrongful death cases. These facilities are entrusted with the care of some of the most vulnerable members of our society, yet, unfortunately, instances of neglect and abuse occur far too frequently. When the actions or inactions of a nursing home or its staff result in the death of an elderly resident, it may constitute a wrongful death, giving the surviving family members the right to seek justice and compensation.

Elder neglect involves the failure to provide necessary care, assistance, and supervision, which can lead to severe health complications and death. This may include inadequate medical care, poor hygiene, malnutrition, dehydration, and failure to prevent bedsores. Elder abuse, on the other hand, includes physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, as well as financial exploitation. Both neglect and abuse can have devastating effects, often going unnoticed until it is too late.

Nursing homes and elder care facilities have a duty to ensure the safety and well-being of their residents. When they fail in this duty, either through understaffing, inadequate training, or intentional misconduct, they can be held liable for the wrongful death of a resident. Proving such cases typically involves demonstrating that the facility or its staff breached their duty of care, directly leading to the resident’s death. This can be supported by evidence such as medical records, witness testimonies, and expert opinions.

At Kellum Law Firm, our wrongful death attorneys have extensive experience in handling cases involving elder neglect and abuse. We understand the profound impact these cases have on families and are committed to holding negligent facilities accountable. If you suspect that your loved one’s death was due to neglect or abuse in a nursing home or elder care facility, it is crucial to seek legal assistance immediately. Our attorneys will thoroughly investigate the circumstances, gather necessary evidence, and advocate tirelessly to ensure justice is served and appropriate compensation is obtained.

Here’s a short video covering elder abuse in care homes:


For more detailed information and statistics about wrongful death claims, you can visit the following resources:

Here’s a short video covering justice for wrongful death victims and claimants’ rights:

Kellum Law Firm Articles Relating to Wrongful Death:

Shattered Lives: Pursuing Justice – Wrongful Death Cases In The Workplace

Snippet: Workplaces should be spaces of productivity, collaboration, and safety. Unfortunately, tragic incidents resulting in wrongful deaths can shatter this ideal, leaving families devastated and grappling with the profound loss of a loved one. In this article our wrongful…

Wrongful Death Lawsuits: Legal Process and Compensation

Snippet: Losing a loved one is an incredibly difficult and devastating experience. When that loss is the result of someone else’s negligence or wrongful actions, the pain can be even more profound. If you have lost a family member due to the wrongful conduct of another…

Dealing with Loss from Wrongful Death

Snippet: The death of a loved one is one of the most difficult experiences that anyone can go through. It is even more painful when the death was caused by the wrongful actions of another person or entity. When a loved one dies due to the negligence or intentional misconduct…

Wrongful Death Claims Following A Car Accident

Snippet: Losing a loved one is one of the most painful experiences a person can go through, especially if the loss was sudden and unexpected. When a loved one dies in a car accident, the emotional pain can be compounded by legal and financial issues that need to be addressed….

Wrongful Death Claim Or Criminal Case – Which Is It 

Snippet: Wrongful deaths occur far too often in contemporary society. These tragedies can stem from auto accidents to workplace accidents to premises liability scenarios. Other causes of wrongful death also include medical malpractice and nursing home abuse. And this is not to…