What is a Wrongful Death Case in North Carolina?


A wrongful death lawsuit must be brought by the personal representative of the estate of a person whose death was caused by a wrongful act, neglect or default of another person.  The right to bring this type of case is governed by statute in North Carolina and must be brought within two years from the date of death.  Wrongful Death cases arise from automobile negligence, medical negligence, product liability, murder, or the failure to follow safety regulations that result in someone’s death.

Under NC law, those persons who would have been entitled to inherit the deceased person’s estate, if that person died without a will, are entitled to recover the damages from those whose wrongful conduct caused the death.   The family members who share the recovery are determined by the provisions of NC’s Intestate Succession Act.

The North Carolina Wrongful Death Statute was written to provide relief to families of persons whose lives were taken by wrongful or negligent acts by others. The type of recoverable damages include burial expenses, expenses for treatment and hospitalization caused by the wrongful conduct causing the death, and compensation for pain and suffering of the deceased person caused by the wrongful conduct.   Those entitled to recover the damages under the Intestate Succession Act are entitled to receive damages for the loss of income from the deceased, the value of the deceased person’s services, protection, care and assistance, his or her society, companionship, comfort, guidance and advice.

In particularly egregious cases the law also allows for an award of punitive or exemplary damages where the wrongful actions by the Defendant which led to death were malicious, willful or wanton conduct.

Wrongful death cases require special attention to a whole array of complex evidentiary, legal, and human issues that are not found in ordinary cases.  For example, frequently the best witness to what happened is dead.   The statute of limitations is two years as opposed to three years in ordinary negligence cases.   Often, a criminal investigation can complicate the prosecution of the civil case while the criminal matter is pending.

The lawyers at Weaver, Bennett & Bland, P.A. have handled wrongful death cases arising from automobile and trucking accidents, explosions from negligence in property management, medical negligence, product liability, criminal wrongdoing, and more.  Each type of wrongful death case demands special attention and requires a focus on the impact that a wrongful death has on a family unit.

M. David Bland is a partner and civil litigation attorney who handles wrongful death cases.  Contact David at Weaver, Bennett & Bland, P.A. at (704) 844-1400.  The information contained in this article is general in nature and not to be taken as legal advice nor to establish an attorney-client relationship between the reader and M. David Bland or the law firm of Weaver, Bennett & Bland, P.A.

Weaver, Bennett & Bland, P.A. serves clients in North Carolina and South Carolina. Located in the town of Matthews between Mecklenburg and Union Counties in North Carolina since 1982, we’ve proudly provided legal services throughout Charlotte, Matthews, Mint Hill, Stallings, Indian Trail, Monroe, Marvin, Wesley Chapel, Weddington, Waxhaw, the Ballantyne area, and other surrounding communities in the Greater Charlotte area. Our clients range from national corporations and major banking institutions to individuals and local companies.