File a Wrongful Death Claim Before the NC Statute of Limitations Deadline
Legal guidance for personal representatives
While you are grieving the death of your loved one, the last thing on your mind may be filing a lawsuit. However, North Carolina law imposes a strict statute of limitations on wrongful death claims. If you miss the deadline, you are prohibited from pursuing compensation from the corporation or person responsible for your loved one’s fatal accident.
The rules regarding the statute of limitations are complex, often leaving plaintiffs confused about their rights. Relying on 29 years of personal injury litigation experience, Hensley Cloninger, P.C. can calculate the time period your family member’s estate has to file a claim.
Time period for filing a wrongful death claim
The North Carolina General Statutes contained in Article 5 prescribe the time periods plaintiffs are allowed to file personal injury and wrongful death claims. Your loved one’s personal representative must initiate the wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the estate within two years of the fatality. In addition, the claim must be brought within the time permitted for the particular personal injury action.
For example, a person injured by a defective product has up to six years to file a product liability claim against the manufacturer. If the victim dies five years later, the estate must bring a wrongful death claim within one year from the date of death and seven years from the accident date. However, if the victim was killed immediately at the scene of the accident, the family may not bring the action more than two years after the date of the accident.
Exceptions to the North Carolina wrongful death filing restrictions
There are exceptions to North Carolina’s rules governing the statute of limitations. For instance, the statute of limitations may be suspended for a minor child of a deceased parent until the child turns 18 years old. Likewise, lack of capacity — for example, a mental impairment or an illness that keeps a person from handling his or her own affairs — may prevent the legal filing of a court action.
To further complicate matters, the trigger of the statute of limitations is sometimes ambiguous. For example, medical negligence may have occurred throughout long-term treatment, raising the question as to when the medical malpractice claim actually arose.
Do not miss the deadline for filing a wrongful death action
To prepare your wrongful death claim before the statute of limitations expires, call Hensley Cloninger, P.C. at 828-348-0092 or contact us online as soon as possible. We offer your family a free initial consultation and a contingency fee plan.