Who Gets the Money in a Wrongful Death Settlement?

When a person behaves recklessly or negligently, and causes a fatal accident, the potential for filing a wrongful death lawsuit exists. Who gets the money in a wrongful death settlement? Certain family members of the decedent have the legal right to receive this payment under North Carolina state statutes.

When family members are grieving over the sudden loss of a loved one, trying to bring a wrongful death lawsuit can seem like an overwhelming task. That’s where our team can help. At the Sumwalt Anderson Law Firm, our wrongful death lawyer knows exactly how to investigate and determine which parties to hold responsible for your loved one’s death. Do not feel like you have to take on this burden alone. When representing your interests, we will give you the level of compassion and professionalism you deserve.

How Does a Wrongful Death Settlement Work?

Before filing this type of lawsuit, it can be helpful to understand how a wrongful death settlement works. Understand that this type of lawsuit represents a civil case, not a criminal case. Law enforcement may or may not file criminal charges against the party accused of causing your loved one’s death. Our wrongful death lawsuit would be separate from any charges.

Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

The first step toward receiving a payout would involve filing a lawsuit against the parties who caused the fatality. Even if the fatality occurred from an accident with no intent to cause harm, you still have the right to file a lawsuit against the responsible parties for their negligence. North Carolina requires a person designated as the personal representative of the decedent to file the lawsuit (NC GS §28A-18-2). Rather than allowing multiple people in the family to file the lawsuit, the law provides that the personal representative represents the family members.

Our team then would serve as the legal representative for the personal representative. You should be aware that state law sets a two-year statute of limitations from the date of death within which to file a lawsuit (NC GS §1-53).

Nothing in North Carolina law requires a family to hire legal representation when attempting to reach a settlement. However, because our wrongful death attorney handles these types of cases regularly, we know how to work toward the highest potential settlement for you. We do not back down when an insurance company tries to minimize your loss. Let us handle the time requirements and day-to-day work to win your case.

Reaching a Settlement

With the lawsuit filed, the responsible party may attempt to negotiate a settlement amount. This is a highly common occurrence. Insurance companies do not like to undertake the expense and time required for a trial. However, if the insurer fails to negotiate a fair settlement, our team is willing to fight in a trial for the result you want and deserve.

To move toward winning the largest potential settlement, we must show that the other party’s actions led to your loved one’s death. In other words, had the other party behaved in a safer manner or made a different choice, your loved one would still be alive. Showing negligence on the part of the other party will lead to the settlement we want.

Who Are the Beneficiaries of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

North Carolina statutes define the beneficiaries of the settlement as those people who qualify under the intestate succession law:

  • Spouse alone: A surviving spouse receives all of the settlement.
  • Spouse and one child: The surviving spouse and child each receive half of the settlement.
  • Spouse and two or more children: The surviving spouse receives one-third of the settlement, while the children split the remaining two-thirds.

If the decedent has no surviving spouse or children, the decedent’s parents would receive the settlement. If the decedent has no surviving parents either, the surviving brothers and sisters would receive the settlement. Our team can decipher the intestate succession law in North Carolina to help you understand who is eligible to receive a wrongful death settlement payment.

How Are Wrongful Death Lawsuits Paid Out?

Typically, a wrongful death lawsuit   is paid outside the decedent’s estate. This protects the monies gained from the lawsuit from any creditors. According to North Carolina Statute § 28A-18-2, some of the items for which beneficiaries can request a payment include:

  • Any medical expenses from attempted emergency care
  • Any medical expenses from a hospitalization prior to death
  • Reasonable funeral and burial expenses
  • Compensation for loss of income
  • Compensation for the decedent’s pain and suffering prior to death
  • Compensation for surviving family members’ loss of the decedent’s protection, care, companionship, and guidance
  • Potential punitive damages and awards.

Should I File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

When we speak to prospective clients after the death of a loved one, our team hears this question regularly. Some families feel that going through the process of filing a wrongful death lawsuit will be too painful. Certainly, having to relive your loved one’s accident and death can be a very difficult and emotional process. Additionally, our team understands that winning a financial settlement won’t bring back your loved one.

Your Family Should Not Have to Suffer Financially After Another Party’s Negligence

Unfortunately, the reality is that many families who lose a loved one in an accident suffer a financial setback. If your deceased family member was a financial contributor to the family, this unexpected death can leave the family in serious trouble. Dreams of owning a home or helping the children pay for college may suddenly disappear.

Your loved one would not want your family to have financial hardships after their fatal accident. Your loved one would want the family to be able to continue living the same life without having to worry constantly about money. By allowing our law firm to handle your wrongful death case, your family may continue to live out the life you dream of having. Our team cannot guarantee that you will win a certain amount in this lawsuit, but you can trust that we will give your case the professionalism and full attention that it deserves.

The Sumwalt Anderson Law Firm Will Work Tirelessly on Your Behalf

When you are ready to file a lawsuit after someone’s negligence caused your loved one’s death, you may be wondering who has the right to bring this lawsuit and who gets the money in a wrongful death settlement. Our team is ready to explain the entire process. We want to make filing this lawsuit as easy as possible on your family.

Let us take on the stress and time required for this process, allowing you to focus on helping your family through the grieving process. Contact Sumwalt Anderson Law Firm today for a free consultation at (704) 377-3770. We can provide advice to help you determine whether you have a case and the smartest path forward.

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 ]


How to File a Truck Accident claim in North Carolina

A truck accident can be a terrifying event, and it can have severe repercussions on your life. Whether you are hit by a commercial truck, a big rig, or a semi-trailer, it is certain to knock your life off course.

The strain of medical bills, repair costs, or the cost to replace your vehicle entirely, is overwhelming enough. If you are dealing with the loss of a loved one or a permanent disability, it can seem insurmountable. That is why you need a dedicated support team at your back[...]