Monroe Wrongful Death Lawyer
The human experience, while filled with many good moments, can also face unexpected tragedy in the blink of an eye. It is a challenging reality of life that many must confront. Losing someone is especially difficult when knowing that their passing results from someone else’s negligent actions. Several illegal, careless, and reckless behaviors can lead to wrongful death in Monroe, NC. This warrants the help of an experienced Monroe wrongful death attorney to recover damages for the surviving family members and justice for the recently deceased.
At Ayers, Whitlow & Dressler, our knowledgeable Monroe wrongful death lawyers understand the physical, financial, and emotional devastation caused by the sudden loss of a loved one. We have represented many families in these cases and have the experience to help you through this difficult time.
What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death claim is a civil lawsuit filed by the surviving family members of someone who died due to another person or entity’s negligence or wrongful act. This type of claim can be filed against an individual, company, or government agency. These lawsuits are intended to recover damages for the surviving family members, including medical and funeral expenses, lost wages and benefits, loss of companionship, pain and suffering, and more.
What Common Situations Lead to Wrongful Death Claims?
Unfortunately, many different situations can lead to a wrongful death claim that leaves a family struggling to cope with the sudden loss. Some of the most common include:
- Car accidents: Car accidents are one of the leading causes of wrongful death in the United States. These accidents can be caused by many different factors, including distracted driving, drunk driving, speeding, reckless driving, and more. However, with the speed and weight of vehicles on the road today, car accidents often lead to severe injuries and death when at least one of the drivers is unable to react quickly enough to avoid a collision.
- Workplace accidents: While the likelihood of facing a wrongful death in the workplace varies by industry, there is no question that some workplaces are more dangerous than others. Jobs that require employees to work with heavy machinery or at high altitudes often lead to fatal accidents when safety procedures are not followed. If any of these scenarios can be connected to another person’s negligence, the surviving family members may have a wrongful death claim.
- Medical malpractice: When we go to the doctor or another medical professional, we trust that they will provide the care needed to treat our ailment or injury. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. A mistake can have life-altering consequences, whether it is a misdiagnosis, failure to diagnose, surgical error, birth injury, or another type of medical error. If the error led to the wrongful death of a patient, the surviving family members might have a claim against the negligent medical professional.
- Defective products: Companies that manufacture and sell products have a duty to ensure the items they are putting on the market are safe for consumers. If a defective product leads to an injury or death, the company can be held liable through a wrongful death claim filed by the surviving family members. They often try to point to a product’s warning labels or instructions as a safeguard against liability. However, their attempt to protect themselves should be comprehensively investigated to spot any holes in their defense.
- Slip and fall accidents: While many people brush off slip and fall accidents as “minor,” the truth is these accidents often lead to severe injuries, including brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and more. When they occur on someone else’s property, the owner can be held liable if their negligence led to the dangerous condition that caused the fall. These cases are often complex, as the property owner will try to point to the victim’s carelessness as the cause of the fall.
- Lack of safety training: Organizations that require their employees to complete safety training are often required to do so by law. When they fail to provide this training, employees performing their assigned job duties are at an increased risk of being injured or killed on the job when they face a scenario for which they are not prepared. If an employee is killed in such a situation, the organization may be held liable through a wrongful death claim by the victim’s surviving family members.
- Intentional violence: Wrongful death claims are not limited to accidents. If another person deliberately causes the death of another person, the surviving family members may have a claim against the individual. This can include cases of murder, manslaughter, assault, and more.
What Should I Do If I Have Lost a Loved One in an Accident?
If you have lost someone in an accident, there are a few recommended things you should do:
- Contact an experienced Monroe personal injury lawyer: The first step should be to contact an experienced wrongful death attorney who can investigate the accident, gather evidence, and help you understand your legal options. While someone may initially be tempted to proceed in legal waters without the support of an attorney, they often quickly learn that this is a mistake. The other side—whether it is an insurance company, property owner, or another party—will have their own legal team working to protect their interests. You need someone on your side who is solely focused on protecting your interests, can anticipate the other side’s moves, and can build a strong case on your behalf.
- Gather evidence: If you have lost a loved one in an accident, it is important to try to gather as much evidence as possible. This can include things like photos of the scene, witness statements, the police report and more. Even if you are unsure if this evidence will be used, it is important to have as much as possible so Monroe personal injury lawyers can determine what is most helpful.
- File a claim: The attorney will then help you file a wrongful death claim against the liable party. The anatomy of a successful claim will depend on the specific facts of your case but will typically include evidence of negligence (e.g., safety training records, product warnings, etc.), damages (e.g., medical bills, funeral expenses, lost earnings, etc.), and how the death has impacted the survivors (e.g., emotional distress, loss of companionship, etc.).
- Negotiate a settlement: Once the claim is filed, the insurance company for the liable party will be notified. The insurer will then assign an adjuster to investigate the claim and negotiate a settlement. If a settlement cannot be reached, the case will go to trial.
- Receive compensation: If the case is successfully settled or litigated, the surviving family members will receive compensation for their damages. This can help alleviate some of the financial burden they are facing because of the accident. It is a good idea to consult with an attorney before accepting any settlement offer, as it is important to make sure that the full value of your claim is being compensated.
What Are the Damages I Can Recover in a Wrongful Death Claim?
The potential damages you can recover in a wrongful death claim depend on the specific facts of your case. However, there are typically three main types of damages that are available in most wrongful death claims:
- Economic damages: These are the actual financial losses you have incurred because of the death. Medical bills can be a huge portion of this category, depending on how much care and treatment the deceased individual received before their death. Other economic damages can include funeral and burial expenses, lost earnings (if the deceased was the primary breadwinner for the family), and other out-of-pocket expenses related to the death.
- Non-economic damages: These are the intangible losses caused by the death. Emotional distress is a major non-economic damage that can be recovered in a wrongful death claim. This can be shown to have occurred through things like counseling records, diary entries, and testimony from friends and family members. Other examples of non-economic damages can include loss of companionship, pain and suffering, and mental anguish.
- Punitive damages: In some cases, the court may award punitive damages in a wrongful death claim. These are designed to punish the liable party for their negligence and to deter others from engaging in similar behavior. Punitive damages are typically only available if the defendant’s negligence was particularly egregious. For example, if the defendant was driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident and does not show any remorse for their actions, the court may award punitive damages.
What Are the Statutes of Limitations for Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in Monroe, NC?
Each state has its own formal statutes of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim. In North Carolina, the general applicable statute of limitations is two years from the confirmed date of death. However, it is not recommended to wait until the last minute to file a claim, as evidence can disappear, and witnesses can become harder to track down over time. Additionally, if a defective product caused the death, the statute of limitations may be much shorter depending on any warranties that were in place. This is why it is suggested that you connect immediately with a legal professional. They can help you understand the deadlines for your claim and ensure that it is filed within the appropriate timeframe.
What Qualities Make a Good Wrongful Death Attorney?
When choosing accident lawyers to represent you in a wrongful death claim, it is important to select someone who will be a good and comfortable fit for you and your family. After suffering the loss of a loved one, the last thing you need is to deal with accident lawyers who are unresponsive or difficult to work with. Here are some qualities you should look for when choosing an attorney to represent you in a wrongful death claim:
- Compassionate: Your attorney should be compassionate and understand the emotional toll a wrongful death can take on a family. Nothing is more unsettling than feeling like your attorney is indifferent to your case or does not understand the gravity of what you are going through. To gauge how compassionate an attorney is, you can schedule an initial consultation to see how they interact with you and make you feel. Observe their body language and see if they make eye contact with you or seem distracted. If they appear rushed or uninterested, it may be best to look for another attorney.
- Communicative: Your attorney should be someone who is communicative and keeps you updated on the status of your case. This is likely one of the most important legal matters you will ever deal with, and you deserve to have an attorney who is responsive to your questions and concerns. To evaluate an attorney’s communication skills, you can reach out to them via phone or email and see how quickly they respond. If they take more than a day to get back to you, it may be an indication that they are not as communicative as you would like.
- Experienced: Your attorney should be experienced in handling wrongful death claims. This is not the time to be working with an inexperienced attorney who is still learning the ropes. To judge an attorney’s experience, you can ask them how many wrongful death cases they have handled and what the outcomes of those cases were. You can also ask them about any specific experience they have that may be relevant to your case. For example, if a defective product caused the death, you would want to choose an attorney who has experience litigating against manufacturers.
- Dedicated: Your attorney should be dedicated to getting you the compensation you deserve. This means that they should be willing to put in the time and effort to thoroughly investigate your case and build a strong legal argument on your behalf. To appraise an attorney’s dedication, you can ask them about their availability to take your case and how much time they are willing to devote to it. You can also ask them about their trial experience and whether they are willing to take your case to court if necessary.
- Respected: Your attorney should be someone whom their peers and the legal community respect. This means that they should have a good reputation amongst other Monroe personal injury attorneys and judges. To assess an attorney’s reputation, you can ask them for references or check online reviews. You can also contact your local bar association to see if any complaints have been lodged against the attorney.
Making a wrongful death claim is a complex legal process, and you want to be sure that you have an attorney who is up to the task. By selecting an attorney with the qualities listed above, you can be confident that you will have trustworthy legal help as you pursue your claim.
Q: Who Gets the Money in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in North Carolina?
A: The money from a wrongful death claim in North Carolina goes to the deceased’s surviving spouse, children, or parents. If there are no surviving spouses, children, or parents, then the money goes to the deceased’s estate. To figure out who gets the money, the court will look at who was financially dependent on the deceased and if there are any estate plans in place that dictate how the money should be distributed.
Q: How Much Can You Get for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A: The amount of money you can get from a wrongful death claim depends on many factors, such as the financial dependence of the surviving spouses, children, or parents on the deceased, the age of the deceased, and the circumstances surrounding the death. An experienced wrongful death attorney can give you a better estimate of how much money you may be entitled to.
Q: How Long Does a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Take?
A: A wrongful death claim can take a few months to several years to resolve. The amount of time it takes depends on the case’s complexity and whether it goes to trial. If your case is particularly complex or if it goes to trial, it may take longer to resolve. However, an experienced wrongful death attorney can speed up the process by gathering evidence and building a strong legal argument on your behalf.
Q: Are Wrongful Death Suits Hard to Win?
A: Every case is different and requires varying levels of proof to win. Sometimes there is an undeniable link between the death and the defendant’s actions, which often results in immediate settlement discussions. Other times, it can be more difficult to prove causation, which may require expert testimony or extensive investigation in court. Regardless, having an experienced wrongful death attorney on your side will give you the best chance of success.
Contact Ayers, Whitlow & Dressler Today
If you have lost someone in Monroe due to someone else’s negligence, you may feel overwhelmed and unsure of where to turn. The experienced attorneys at Ayers, Whitlow & Dressler can help you navigate the legal process and fight for the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.