Wrongful Death Compensation in North Carolina
When dealing with compensation from a wrongful death case, specific North Carolina laws are in place to divide the funds according to the intestacy statute. Intestacy refers to someone who has died without a will. To be more specific, the funds from a wrongful death are not divided due to the provisions within a will. If the deceased individual has a will then it will account for the division of assets of the estate of the deceased, but not the wrongful death claim. Funds from a death claim are divided as if the individual who died did not have a will. North Carolina’s wrongful death statute (NC28A-18-2) states that the recovery in wrongful death cases are not assets of the person’s estate subject to creditors’ claims, and it provides a list of damages that can be recovered through the wrongful death claim.
These damages include medical bills of the deceased, the deceased’s conscious pain and suffering, funeral expenses, and the value of the deceased to their family members. Keep in mind that it is a good idea to have a skilled wrongful death attorney to review your case and make sure the proper compensation is given to the correct next of kin. If you or a loved one needs help in this area, our North Carolina wrongful death attorneys at Brown and Moore are here to help you navigate this process.
Who Can Claim Wrongful Death Compensation in North Carolina?
The surviving spouse of the deceased person is to receive the first $60,000 and then half the remainder if the deceased has a surviving child. The child and his or her descendants take the other half. If the deceased had a child, but that child is already deceased, then it would go to the grandchildren of the deceased child, if applicable.
If the deceased had two or more living children, then the spouse would still take the first $60,000 and then one third of the remainder and the children split this equally. If one of the children is not living, then it would go down to their grandchildren.
If the deceased has no living children or grandchildren, then the first $100,000 would go to their spouse. If the deceased has living parents, then half of the remainder would go to the parents of the deceased.
Lastly, if the deceased has no living parents, children or grandchildren, then the spouse would collect all the funds.
These rules of the division of funds are found at North Carolina General Statute sections 29-14, 29-15,and 29-16. It is necessary to note that if the amount of the funds going to next of kin do not exceed $60,000, the spouse may take all of the funds regardless of children or grandchildren. Also, if there is no living descendant but the deceased’s parents are living, then the spouse may take all the funds unless the funds for disbursement to next of kin are greater than $100,000.
Dividing Wrongful Death Funds in NC
The division of funds from wrongful death between children and lineal descendants (grandchildren) is known as the distribution among classes. The same level of kin shares equally through this system. Children of the deceased take the same equal shares. If a child is deceased but has living children of their own, then those children would receive their share. As the divisions of the funds can be extremely confusing, we invite you to call our office with any questions or extra help needed understanding this process.
If the deceased has no spouse, children, grandchildren or living parents, then there are provisions where their siblings would take the compensation as next of kin. This usually only happens in rare cases, but it is still possible.
Adopted children are treated the same as birth children when dealing with the funds from a wrongful death claim. Adopted children will receive the same rights and provisions as that of a natural born child.
What Happens If I Am Not Married to the Deceased?
If you are not legally married to your significant other, then under North Carolina law you more than likely will not have any recourse for compensation. This is a harsh reality, but in order to be covered as a beneficiary under the state laws you must be legally married. However, if your common law spouse was killed as a result of a workplace accident then you may be able to recover compensation under worker’s compensation laws. There is no absolute guarantee of recovery for benefits as this still remains a difficult matter to prove, but our staff would be willing to review and go over your specific situation in attempt to help you gain compensation.
Divorce will negate the ex-spouse’s rights under the rules discussed previously. If the deceased had children, then the children will take the compensation. If the deceased had no children, and was divorced, then the living parents of the deceased would take the funds. This is an instance where gaining legal counsel will help you tremendously. Too many times we have seen divorcee’s try to collect on their ex-spouses funds. If you believe this may apply to your situation, please let us help get you qualified as the administrator of the deceased estate.
Consult with a North Carolina Wrongful Death Attorney Today
As one can see, there is a very specific, yet very complex system used to determine the division of funds from a wrongful death case. Knowing the ins and outs of this system and the lineage of next of kin can be very confusing and tough to navigate through. At Brown Moore and Associates, we are here to help you get through this tough time, and make sure that the proper beneficiaries are getting the correct funds from the wrongful death case you and your family are dealing with.
Our experienced attorneys are ready to answer your difficult questions regarding the division of funds, and how to proceed forward from this devastating event in your lives. Our legal team is compassionate to you and your loved one’s needs during this difficult time. We invite you to call our office to speak to a skilled wrongful death attorney, and get the answers you and your family need to move forward from this tragic event.