Our Wrongful Death Attorneys Help You Handle the Unthinkable


There is nothing more tragic than losing a loved one. And, when that loss is the result of the negligence of another person or organization, the grief felt by the family is often accompanied by immense frustration and anger. After all, the situation at hand was unnecessary and avoidable.

If you have found yourself in this position, you may be entitled to compensation for your loss. While no amount of money can replace your loved one, a financial award can help pay for expenses and provide for necessary future support. It can alleviate some of your stress.

Working with experienced professionals, those who are both sensitive to your loss and diligent in their actions, can help you obtain justice. They are incredibly loyal to their clients, always advocating for their best interests. These professionals will leverage their decades of experience to ensure that you receive the maximum compensation possible, always managing the process with a sympathetic hand. Contact them today at (704) 377-3770 for a free consultation and to learn more about exactly how they can help you.


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Understanding Wrongful Death Claims

What Is Wrongful Death?

Quite simply, wrongful death occurs when life is lost due to the negligence of an individual or organization. It is an occurrence that could have, that should have, never happened. Wrongful death can be the result of a number of events which are further detailed in our Frequently Asked Questions section below.

Wrongful Death Laws Differ by State

While every state has wrongful death statutes in place, they are not consistent. In fact, specific aspects of the laws governing wrongful death do vary, depending upon where the incident took place. These differences include but are not limited to the:

  • Statute of limitations
  • Types of damages that can be recovered
  • Settlement distribution (who is entitled to compensation awarded in the case).

Given these differences, it is important to work with a wrongful death lawyer in North Carolina who knows the laws in our state and who has experience in handling these types of cases. You can talk to the team at Sumwalt Anderson to find out if you have a case and to learn about the steps in a wrongful death lawsuit.

Who Can Be a Beneficiary in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

In North Carolina, the beneficiaries who would receive proceeds are determined by intestate succession laws in a wrongful death lawsuit. Part of the compensation is used by the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate to pay reasonable and necessary expenses. These can include attorney’s fees, funeral and burial expenses, and reasonable hospital and medical expenses.

The rest of the compensation is paid out according to a priority order formula, depending on which family members survive the decedent. Distributions made to family members depend on whether or not the deceased was married, had children, had siblings, surviving parents, and other factors (See N.C. Gen. Stat. §29-15 and §29-14). Given the complexity of North Carolina’s laws regarding shares of the proceeds, it is best to work with wrongful death attorneys who understand the intricacies of those laws.

Engaging a Charlotte Wrongful Death Attorney to Handle Your Claim

Working with well-respected and qualified attorneys when filing a wrongful death claim is a wise decision. Experienced professionals, like the Charlotte personal injury attorneys at Sumwalt Anderson, are a critical resource during this stressful process.

They will serve as your representative and communicate on your behalf with all involved parties, including insurance companies and other attorneys. As a result of their experience, our wrongful death lawyers understand the legal process and can help you obtain the maximum benefits to which you are entitled as a result of your loss.

Wrongful Death in North Carolina: Frequently Asked Questions

Our wrongful death attorneys in Charlotte answer your questions.

  • What Is the Statute of Limitations in North Carolina Wrongful Death Cases?

    According to North Carolina Wrongful Death Law § 28A-18-2, the statute of limitations for filing a claim is two years. Thus, you must file within two years of the date of death of your loved one. That said, certain elements of a case can affect this timing. Our Charlotte wrongful death attorney can explain these issues and assist you in determining your timeframe for filing.

  • What Situations Qualify as Wrongful Death?

    There are several incidents that may occur where life is lost that would qualify as wrongful death. These include, but are not limited to:

    • Motor vehicle accidents (including car, truck, and motorcycle)
    • Medical malpractice
    • Drunk driving accidents
    • Defective products
    • Accidents related to premises liability
    • Workplace injuries.
  • Who Can File for Wrongful Death?

    In order to legally file a wrongful death claim in North Carolina, you must be either the executor or administrator (also known as the personal representative) of the estate. That said, not everyone has executed a will or has estate planning documents in place. In cases like this, the court will appoint an individual (usually a child, parent, or relative of the deceased) to serve in this role.

  • What Types of Damages Can Be Claimed in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

    A broad range of damages can be awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit in North Carolina. These include:

    • Medical expenses
    • Funeral expenses
    • Pain and suffering for the person who has died
    • Lost income (the money the deceased would have earned had the incident not occurred)
    • The present monetary value of the decedent to his or her beneficiaries
    • The value of the services the deceased would have provided, including protection, care, companionship, and guidance
    • Punitive damages.

    It is important to recognize that in North Carolina wrongful death cases are civil cases. This means that the decision rendered will be whether or not to award financial compensation and damages. Criminal punishment, like jail time, is not going to result from this type of case. Should criminal activities have occurred, like drinking and driving, a separate case may be brought by the authorities.

  • What Are Punitive Damages?

    Punitive damages can be awarded in addition to general wrongful death damages. The general awards are used as compensation. In North Carolina, when wrongful death damages are assessed, expenses are paid from the settlement. Attorney’s fees, court costs, medical and funeral bills are satisfied. Any remaining monies are then distributed to the deceased’s beneficiaries.

    Punitive damages are assigned as a punishment to those who were deemed responsible for the death. These damages are awarded when the actions of the defendant have been particularly reckless and without care. It is hoped that punishments like these will serve as a warning to others (both businesses and individuals) and that they will behave more responsibly in the future. History should not repeat itself.

Proving Wrongful Death in North Carolina

For a Successful Case You Need a Charlotte Wrongful Death Lawyer

Clearly, there are a number of incidents that could, unfortunately, result in the wrongful death of someone you love. In order to receive compensation based on this, you must prove that the death of your loved one was the direct result of the negligence of the defendant.  When you work with our wrongful death attorneys, we must establish a duty of care, prove a breach of that duty of care, and show causation. Each of these elements has specific legal definitions and requires knowledge and legal strategy that our experienced attorneys have.

Duty of Care

When an individual has a “duty of care,” it means they hold a legal responsibility not to cause harm to others. They must avoid any acts that could reasonably be identified as leading to such harm. In a wrongful death case, the plaintiff must prove the existence of this responsibility. Some examples of duty of care include:

  • Adhering to the traffic laws when operating a vehicle
  • Maintaining a safe workplace that complies with appropriate codes
  • Posting warning labels on products that may be dangerous.

Breach of Duty of Care

When we represent you in a wrongful death claim, not only must our attorneys prove that the duty of care exists, but we also must show that the defendant breached this responsibility. To further explain, let’s look at the above examples.

  • Adhering to Traffic Laws: Should a driver of an automobile speed or make an illegal turn resulting in the injury or death of another, a breach of duty of care would likely exist. If your loved one’s death happened as the result of a vehicle accident, our car accident attorney at Sumwalt Anderson can help you understand the issues in motor vehicle cases.
  • Maintaining a Safe Workplace: If a business owner does not maintain the workplace according to code and an individual is injured or killed, the owner may be guilty of a breach of duty of care.
  • Warning Labels: Warning labels inform consumers about the dangers of specific products and their use. Should an individual suffer personal injury or death from using a product without a warning label, the company may be liable if the courts determine that the risks would have been less or nonexistent had the user been warned.

Causation in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Finally, it is the burden of the party pursuing a wrongful death claim (the plaintiff) to go beyond proving irresponsible or illegal actions.  In fact, it is necessary that the plaintiff show that this behavior (or lack thereof) was the direct cause of death. The behavior (or absence of such) must be linked directly to the outcome. This can be more complicated when a variety of factors come into play. This is why it’s so important to work with an experienced wrongful death attorney who can help prove causation.

Given the complexities involved with a wrongful death case, when you come to Sumwalt Anderson for help, our attorneys will explain each step of your case as it proceeds. We are ready to answer any questions you may have and ready to fight for the compensation you deserve after losing a loved one.

Our Team Represents Clients After Work-Related Wrongful Deaths

A case in which a worker in North Carolina dies from injuries or disease related to the normal course of work may result in a workers’ compensation claim. These cases can be complicated and difficult to navigate.

Our workers’ compensation lawyer knows exactly how challenging it can be to develop a workers’ comp case after the death of an employee. In North Carolina, filing a claim under workers’ comp requires showing that the death stems from a work-related injury or disease that would be compensable.

Time Limits in North Carolina Wrongful Death Cases Involving Work

Under workers’ comp law in the state, the death must occur within six years of the injury or of the qualifying occupational disease. If it takes many years to create a final determination of disability, the death must occur within two years of this final determination. Victims can make use of the latter date for the two- or six-year window, whichever is more helpful to their case, to try to obtain death benefits under workers’ compensation.

Special Circumstances in Work-Related Workers’ Comp Cases

In some of these wrongful death cases, the victim suffers a work-related accident a few years before dying. Eventually, the injuries from the accident lead to a fatality. Even if the victim and his or her family received workers’ compensation injury benefits previously, they may later qualify for death benefits under the law. The case simply needs to fit within the time limits described earlier.

At Sumwalt Anderson, our team deals regularly with workers’ comp cases, including some that result in a fatality. We do not back down when insurance companies try to make untrue claims about the nature of the work-related injury your loved one suffered. We fight hard for your family’s rights in a wrongful death case related to the jobsite.

Attorney Richard Anderson

Richard “Rick” Anderson is a native Charlottean. He received his Bachelor of Arts Degree from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1990 and his Juris Doctorate law degree from the Wake Forest University School of Law in 1993. Rick focuses his practice on workers’ compensation, medical negligence, and catastrophic personal injury cases. You will find Rick to be an honest and dedicated advocate ready to fight for his clients. When he accepts your case, Rick makes a personal commitment to you and uses his 27 years of knowledge and experience to advance your lawsuit to achieve a successful outcome. [ Attorney Bio ]


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    Why You Should Work with a Charlotte Wrongful Death Attorney at Sumwalt Anderson


    If your loved one has lost their life as a result of the negligence of an individual or organization, you may be entitled to compensation for your loss. Filing and prosecuting wrongful death claims requires the expertise of attorneys who are experienced in investigating, negotiating, and trying such cases.


    Our Sumwalt Anderson wrongful death attorneys in Charlotte are well-versed in all of the intricacies of wrongful death settlements and litigation. Our attorneys have decades of experience in North Carolina wrongful death law, catastrophic injury, and medical malpractice. We understand how the legal process works, and we have a proven record of success.


    Additionally, but no less important, we are respectful, caring, and sympathetic professionals. We understand that the reason you need our help is because of an unimaginable tragedy. While we could never claim to understand the depths of your personal pain, we do appreciate your grief and know how devastating losing someone you love can be.


    We offer caring and compassionate service and assume responsibility for as much as possible, relieving you of many responsibilities. We will coordinate any and all necessary investigations and communicate with all related parties on your behalf. And we will work tirelessly in our aggressive pursuit to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve. Our attorneys always show up prepared. We research every aspect of each and every case and work to see that our clients receive all to which they are entitled.


    We recognize that the loss of your loved one is devastating. While we cannot remedy the pain you feel, we can help you avoid the financial hardships that occur as a result of the death of an individual. Contact us today at (704) 377-3770 for a complimentary consultation.