Loss of Life

The unexpected loss of a father, a mother, a son, or daughter, is heart-braking.  Families are left with many questions, but few answers.  Why now? How did it happen?  How are we going to move forward?

Brian Elston Law counsels and represents surviving family members whose loved one incurred a work place accident, motor vehicle accident, and even intentional assault that resulted in loss of life.

We strive to provide you with answers during this difficult time.  You do have legal rights and need an experienced wrongful death attorney to advise you of your options.  Please contact Brian Elston Law to schedule an in-person, including an at-home, consultation.

Wrongful Death- the What, Who, and How?

When the death of a person is caused by a wrongful act, neglect or fault of another, North Carolina law allows for family members to recover for damages.  A copy of the law can be found here.  In general, damages that may be recoverable in a wrongful death action include:

  • Prior medical expenses;
  • Compensation for pain and suffering;
  • Reasonable funeral expenses;
  • Loss of income;
  • Loss of companionship.

In general, the statute of limitations on wrongful death cases in North Carolina is two years.  This means that a surviving family member has two years from the date of death in order to bring an action.  There are exceptions to the general rule.  For instance, if the wrongful death was the result of a faulty product or on the job, the action may need to be filed sooner.

Who can file a wrongful death claim?

A “personal representative”, or individual that represents the estate can file a claim.  (Our firm assists family in setting up the estate).  However, the wrongful death benefit collection is limited to immediate family members through the Intestate Succession Act.  In other words, and generally speaking, the net assets after fees from a wrongful claim suit go to the “next of kin,” which can also include spouse.

Loss of Life on the Job

Work Place Injury

A loved that is injured on the job that results in death may also be entitled to benefits under the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act.  For more information about the Act, you can check out the Workers’ Compensation Page here.

 

There are a couple of differences in death benefits under the Act and a wrongful death action:

  • Burial expenses are available up to $10,000;
  • Weekly death benefits are available for up to 500 weeks (there are exceptions).  The benefits may be distributed in a lump sum in certain situations.
  • Weekly death benefits are calculated based on approximately 2/3 of the workers’ average weekly wage.

In addition, North Carolina law provides that if the injury or death is caused by the willful failure of the employer to comply with any statutory requirement, the above referenced compensation may be increased by 10%.

You and your family are going through a lot if you’ve lost a loved one.  When the time is right, please call Brian Elston Law to schedule an appointment to discuss your families options.