Get Help from Our Asheville Wrongful Death Lawyer
How a Wrongful Death Case Works
If your loved one was killed because of another’s fault, our Asheville wrongful death attorney may be able to help. To bring a case, you’ll make a personal injury claim on behalf of your deceased loved one to hold accountable the parties responsible for the death. You’ll need to prove that another’s negligent actions led to your loved one’s death. Sometimes, multiple parties can be at fault. A wrongful death claim can provide the estate with compensation for some of the harm. For a case to succeed, you’ll need to work with an experienced attorney who understands the complexities of wrongful death cases.
Get an honest evaluation of your case in a free consultation today. Lakota Denton will help you understand how your wrongful death case can proceed and what to expect for compensation.
Our Wrongful Death Attorney in Asheville Explains the Law and How It Applies in Your Case
When there is a death in North Carolina, the court appoints a personal representative who will be responsible for the estate. Often, a will names who that personal representative will be. Typically, the role may be filled by the surviving spouse, a parent, or adult children. It is this personal representative who files a lawsuit in a wrongful death case. North Carolina law describes wrongful death as one caused “by a wrongful act, neglect, or default of another” (NC Gen. Stat. § 28A-18-2)1. If the person died due to someone’s negligence or an intentional act, the personal representative might be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the party or parties who caused the death. By working with an attorney, the estate’s representative can take the appropriate steps for a successful legal case.
If your loved one has died because of another’s negligence, talk to our wrongful death attorney in Asheville. Lakota Denton can determine how the laws apply to your case and what steps you can expect to take next. Call our team today at 828-333-5996 to learn what options you have.
“I’m leaving a 5-star review for Lakota Denton and his excellent team because of their utmost care and compassion. I came to them drowning in the turbid waters of despondent lawyers and sketchy doctors, and they put me on a plan to physical recovery, while they recovered my case. Lakota is a lawyer with keen awareness, dignity, and most importantly, heart. Thank you, Lakota.” – Ganesh Braymiller
“Excellent in every way. Lakota is easily the best lawyer I have ever worked with. Effective, efficient, honest, compassionate, friendly and fair. Hiring a lawyer can be stressful, but Lakota transforms that stress into confidence. And that confidence is then justified by the results he gets. Thanks for your help Lakota!” – Stephen Barnard
“I couldn’t be happier with the job Lakota Denton and his awesome staff did for me after I had my accident. They all really cared about my outcome and stayed in touch every step of the way. I can’t recommend him enough!! 5 stars all the way. Thank you!” – Peter Estrada
“In an accident? Need Help? This is your turn-key, set-it-and-forget-it solution! Lakota and Jenny are two of the best friends you will meet in Asheville! If anything can go sideways, be atypical or oddball… it seems like it will happen to me. True to form, several legal obstacles cropped up, even though I was not at fault in the accident.” – Christopher McGrath
“Lakota provided me with a free consultation and gave me crucial information on how to handle my accident case with an 18 wheeler. His guidance set me on the right path to maximizing my settlement while feeling confident I understood the process. I cannot recommend his services enough, he was an incredible help to me.” – Amy Fisher
“Lakota Denton is a champion for the people. He worked with me on a car accident case and won the maximum settlement. He has a strong reputation as an experienced trial lawyer so insurance companies know he doesn’t mess around.” – Chalkley Matlack
“Attorney Lakota Denton was super effective at isolating the issue, building a strong case, and achieving immediate results on behalf of clients in a matter that is so key to our constitutional rights. If looking for an attorney, look no further. You need him in your court!” – Zachery Adam
“Incredibly helpful folks- whether you end up utilizing their services or not. They provided me with peace of mind on a terrible day when I had no idea what steps to take. You won’t find a friendlier or better informed personal injury lawyer in Asheville! Even if you’re just not sure of your rights or the steps to take, it’s definitely worth making the call!” – Chessa Budai
Your Best Choice for an Asheville Wrongful Death Lawyer
Why You Need Lakota Denton at Your Side
Lakota and our team know that you deserve space to grieve. The last thing you need right now is to learn the ins and outs of North Carolina wrongful death laws. You’ve suffered a terrible loss, and when you realize it happened because of another’s negligence, it makes it even more painful. We are sensitive to the emotional weight you bear, and we also know you have economic losses that need to be recovered in a legal claim.
Turn to Lakota to ensure you have a supportive legal advocate who will treat you with the compassion you deserve. You also need a skilled and highly experienced wrongful death attorney to make certain your case has the best chance possible for success.
Compassion. Honesty. Experience. Results.
Expect nothing less from Ashville wrongful death lawyer Lakota Denton and his team.
Here are reasons why you should choose to work with us:
- We take on tough cases. Lakota doesn’t shy away from a legal fight. He’s not afraid to take on challenging wrongful death cases, and our team never gives up until we get results.
- We have a proven winning record. As our client, you deserve nothing less than the best. Learn about our successful cases. There is good reason why insurers prefer to work with Lakota to provide you fair compensation rather than risk losing a wrongful death lawsuit in court. He’s a fierce litigator.
- You’ll always be fully informed. It’s our job to understand every detail of your wrongful death case. We also make it our job to be sure you know what’s happening at every step in the process. You’ll never be left in the dark. When you have questions, you’ll get quick answers.
- Learn what our past clients say. Don’t take our word for it. Find out why our clients have been so thankful to work with us. Read what others say about Asheville wrongful death lawyer Lakota Denton.
- We truly care about our community and everyone in it. Lakota Denton is a lawyer who has roots in our Asheville community. When you work with him, you’ll have a skilled wrongful death attorney at your side, and also an advocate who deeply cares. Learn about our campaigns that strive to keep all of us safer.
Here is How Lakota Can Help You in Your Wrongful Death Case
”Excellent in every way. Lakota is easily the best lawyer I have ever worked with. Effective, efficient, honest, compassionate, friendly and fair. Hiring a lawyer can be stressful, but Lakota transforms that stress into confidence. And that confidence is then justified by the results he gets. Thanks for your help Lakota!” – Stephen Barnard (Google Review)
Our Wrongful Death Lawyer in Asheville Can Help Your Family Receive Fair Compensation
When your loved one’s death is the result of someone’s negligence, you may be able to recover “damages” for losses you’ve suffered. Damages are the costs associated with the passing of your loved one. Sometimes, a wrongful death case starts as a personal injury case. If your loved one was hurt in a car accident, in a work injury or by medical malpractice, and suffered from those injuries before they died, you can pursue damages to recover any costs associated with that injury, things like medical bills or lost income.
According to North Carolina law, a wrongful death lawsuit could compensate family members for:
- Medical and rehabilitation expenses resulting from the injury
- The deceased’s pain and suffering before his or her death
- Reasonable funeral and burial expenses
- Lost income
- Loss of the deceased person’s services, protection, care, and assistance
- Loss of society, companionship, comfort, guidance, and advice.
The latter two items in this list are also known as “loss of consortium” and can apply to any family member; but they are most appropriate damages for a spouse or minor children to recover. These are the people who will most strongly be harmed by the deceased person’s presence in their lives. It is also possible to pursue punitive damages in a North Carolina wrongful death case. They are applicable only in cases involving egregiously wrongful acts.
This list of potential damages that you might be able to obtain is comprehensive, but it’s not easy to prove that you deserve all that apply in your case (NC Gen. Stat. § 28A-18-2 (b)). That’s why it’s important to contact Lakota Denton for help today. He’s your best option for a wrongful death attorney who can pursue all the compensation possible in your case.
Punitive Damages in a North Carolina Wrongful Death Case
Punitive damages could also be awarded. Under North Carolina law2, these damages are available “to punish a defendant for egregiously wrongful acts and to deter the defendant and others from committing similar wrongful acts.” In a case where compensatory damages are awarded, there can be punitive damages if there is “willful or wanton conduct” which can be proven by “clear and convincing evidence.”
“Willful or wanton conduct” is defined as “the conscious and intentional disregard of and indifference to the rights and safety of others, which the defendant knows or should know is reasonably likely to result in injury, damage, or other harm.”
To be awarded punitive damages, there needs to be solid evidence that the defendant went beyond more than a serious, negligent mistake. The actions would need to be intentional, or seem very close to intentional, to have a successful punitive damages claim.
Examples of Plaintiff in a Wrongful Death Case that Includes Punitive Damages
- A medical device maker knew a product caused patients’ injuries but sold it anyway.
- A nursing home operator failed to take proper care of a resident and, as a result, the person became seriously ill. The nursing home didn’t transport her to a hospital until it was too late, and she couldn’t be treated successfully. In these cases, you can sue a nursing home for the wrongful death.
- Two drivers raced each other on an interstate at high speeds, despite there being other vehicles on the road. One of the drivers lost control and collided with a car, killing its driver.
These types of cases can be complex, and our skilled wrongful death attorney will fight for all damages that apply to your case. Lakota believes in being bluntly honest with our clients. You can be sure he will let you know what compensatory options are — and are not — available to you. Give our team a call today at 828-333-5996 to learn about your legal options.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in North Carolina?
In most states, those who can legally bring a wrongful death claim are limited to close family members. However, in North Carolina, only a personal representative of the deceased’s estate can bring a wrongful death claim. There are several people who might serve the personal representative role. They include:
Immediate Family Members – These would include a spouse or children, which also includes adopted children. In the case of a child’s death, a parent — including an unmarried parent — can bring a wrongful death claim.
Distant Family Members – A grandparent, aunt, uncle or even a niece or nephew may be named as a personal representative of the deceased’s estate and can therefore bring a wrongful death lawsuit.
Life Partners – Someone close to the deceased who is not married to, but lives with and shares a partnership with the deceased, can serve as a personal representative.
There are a few other elements that must apply for a person to serve as a personal representative. North Carolina law states that a person simply needs to be older than 18, of sound mind, a resident of North Carolina, literate and not a felon (NC Gen. Stat. §28A-4-2)3. While the above list includes the most common people to serve in the role, the law leaves open an even wider range of people who could file a wrongful death claim on behalf of a decedent’s estate.
Who Can Be Sued for Wrongful Death in North Carolina?
Whatever the situation was that gave rise to your wrongful death case, there will be some entity that can be sued. The core element of a wrongful death claim requires that a negligent act on the part of some party led to your loved one’s death. That means your loved one could have died in an accident, from an injury at work, or from use of a product. In each situation, there will be a defendant in the wrongful death lawsuit.
Here are some examples of defendants in potential wrongful death cases:
- A driver who is at fault in an auto accident that led to your loved one’s death
- The employer of the at-fault driver in an accident if some negligent behavior on the part of that employer led to the driver’s causing the accident
- A civil engineering company that created a faulty design which led to a roadway hazard that caused an accident
- A building inspector who failed to adequately warn occupants of a clear fault in a structure which later caused a death
- The manufacturer or distributor that knew of a malfunction in a child car seat, and that malfunction led to a child’s death in a car accident
- A landlord who didn’t fix a broken railing which led to someone’s dying in a fall.
In some situations, there may be multiple parties who can be plaintiffs in a wrongful death lawsuit.
For example, a fatal truck accident may have many parties whose negligence caused the accident, such as the negligent truck driver as well as the trucking company because the company knew the driver was unsafe. Or perhaps a faulty part led to a fatal truck accident. That defective part may have been identified upon inspection by a trucking company employee as well as the driver, but the truck was nonetheless put on the road. In addition, that faulty part may have been put on the market by the manufacturer that knew of the defect and its potential to harm people on the road.
Without the careful guidance of our knowledgeable Asheville wrongful death lawyer, you may lose opportunity to get the full compensation you are due. You may not understand who can be held responsible for your loved one’s death.
Don’t trust your case to just any wrongful death attorney. Trust Lakota, because he will give you an honest assessment of your case and because he has the skills needed to negotiate with insurance companies. If your wrongful death case goes to court, you will want no one else at your side. Lakota is an experienced litigator who will aggressively fight for your full compensation. Give our team a call today at (828) 333-5996 to discuss who can be held responsible in your loved one’s death.
Proving Negligence in a Wrongful Death Case
Negligence is a legal theory used when a serious mistake by a person, company, nonprofit, or government agency caused an injury that led to your loved one’s death. Sometimes, the negligent act is so egregious, it may merit punitive damages. Proving that a negligent act (or inaction) led to a death is essential to winning a wrongful death case in North Carolina. There are basic standards to meet to fully prove that negligence occurred. To be successful, the personal representative, with the help of our wrongful death attorney in Asheville, would need to show:
- The defendant owed an obligation to the deceased to do or not do something in a situation. It could be a fellow driver who has the duty of obeying the speed limit; a doctor performing surgery with an acceptable level of skill; or an electrician doing work safely enough that it won’t start a fire.
- The defendant failed in the obligation by making a critical error, which caused an accident.
- The accident or other negligent act caused a fatal injury.
- The deceased suffered harm from that act which can result in compensation (known as damages).
- Under North Carolina law, the defendant must pay those damages.
North Carolina personal injury law states that if the injured person played any role in causing the accident, legal claims can be dismissed. If the defendant has evidence that the deceased made a mistake, too, and partially caused the accident, the lawsuit will fail. North Carolina is among only a few states with this statutory stance on the issue. It is called “contributory negligence,” and most other states follow “comparable negligence” which simply reduces the total compensation by the percent of fault of the injured person. In North Carolina, it’s “all or nothing.” This legal approach was defined by the state’s Supreme Court decision in Clark v. Roberts4.
Depend on Our Wrongful Death Lawyer’s Expertise Before You Talk to Insurers
Given how important it is to prove negligence, it’s critical that you consult with our wrongful death lawyer to help with your case. Don’t talk to an insurer without getting legal guidance first. Lakota can make sure you don’t lose your chance to obtain compensation in your wrongful death case. He can provide you valuable guidance before you talk to an insurance company or provide them any information. You may mistakenly say something that puts some blame on the deceased, ending your wrongful death claim before it starts.
Our Wrongful Death Attorney Can Make Sure Your Case is Filed on Time
Because our wrongful death attorney has expertise in the law, he can ensure you begin your wrongful death case well before the statute of limitations means you can no longer bring a case. The time period in which you can file varies, depending on the circumstances and timing of your loved one’s injury and death. These different time limits to filing wrongful death legal claims in the state can be confusing.
- If your loved one was injured in an accident and died the same day, the estate has two years from the date of death to file the wrongful death claim (N.C. Gen. Stat. §1-53(4))5.
- If your loved one survived for a few months, or even years, after the accident, the wrongful death case must be filed within three years of the accident. This time period applies to any personal injury lawsuit (NC Gen Stat §1-52(16))6.
The time limit, or “statute of limitations,” can play out in many ways, depending on what happened and when. If you miss this deadline, the case will be dismissed, and there will be no recovery. This is an important reason why you should contact Lakota as soon as possible after an accident injures or kills a close family member. You can reach our team at 828-333-5996 or use our online form to get help today with your wrongful death case.
Lakota is the Wrongful Death Lawyer Your Family Can Trust
Lakota’s goal is to make sure our clients are treated fairly by insurance companies. If a family member was killed because of an intentional act or negligence by another, he can help. He often meets with accident victims or their family members for an initial consultation at no charge. Reach out and talk to him about your situation, your legal rights in a wrongful death case, and how North Carolina law may apply in your case.
A wrongful death in a car accident claim, or one where a death was caused another way, can be very complex. It’s not a good idea to negotiate with an insurance company before you talk to us. Without the help of a wrongful death attorney, your family may end up with a fraction of what the case is worth. Call us today at (828) 333-5996 to get your free consultation.
1 North Carolina General Statute § 28A-18-2. Death by wrongful act of another; recovery not assets. https://www.ncleg.net/EnactedLegislation/Statutes/PDF/ByArticle/Chapter_28A/Article_18.pdf
2 North Carolina General Statute § 1D-1. Purpose of punitive damages. https://www.ncleg.net/EnactedLegislation/Statutes/PDF/ByChapter/Chapter_1D.pdf
3 North Carolina General Statute §28A-4-2. Persons disqualified to serve as personal representative. https://www.ncleg.net/enactedlegislation/statutes/html/bysection/chapter_28a/gs_28a-4-2.html
4 Grover Cecil Clark v. Clay Roberts and Elmer Clark. 263 N.C. 336, 343, 139 S.E.2d 593, 597 (1965) https://law.justia.com/cases/north-carolina/supreme-court/1965/315-0.html
5 North Carolina General Statute § 1-53. Two years. https://www.ncleg.gov/EnactedLegislation/Statutes/HTML/BySection/Chapter_1/GS_1-53.html
6 North Carolina General Statute § 1-52. Three years. https://www.ncleg.gov/EnactedLegislation/Statutes/HTML/BySection/Chapter_1/GS_1-52.html