What is Wrongful Death?
When an accident claims the life of a victim in North Carolina, the family may have legal options available to recover damages. Wrongful death claims allow the victim's estate to recover monetary damages from the person responsible for the fatal crash.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
While many states provide the victim's family the right to file the claim, North Carolina requires wrongful death claims to be filed by a personal representative of the victim's estate. This personal representative can be (a) named directly in the victim's will or (b) appointed after the victim's death. Personal representatives are generally close family members of the victim (e.g., spouse, child, partner).
Elements of a Wrongful Death Claim
What must be proved in order to recover monetary damages from a wrongful death claim? In North Carolina, a victim's family/estate may be entitled to damages if they can prove:
- The defendant had a duty to prevent harm
- The defendant breached this duty in some way, and
- The victim's death is a result of this breach of duty.
In other words, the family must prove that the victim's death was the result of the defendant's wrongful actions or negligence.
Damages Available in Wrongful Death Actions
Family members may want to pursue a wrongful death claim because it can allow them to recover monetary damages for the loss of their loved one. In North Carolina, damages are generally limited to what the victim would have been able to recover himself, had he survived the accident.
Damages available in North Carolina wrongful death lawsuits include:
- Medical expenses related to the care, treatment, and hospitalization of the victim before death
- Pain and suffering
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Value of lost income, service, care and assistance, and companionship the victim would have provided, and
- Nominal damages the jury determines to be appropriate.
Families may also be able to recover punitive damages if the defendant acted with malice, willful, or wanton conduct.
All Victims Entitled to Compensation
Other passengers who may not have died as a result of their injuries are also entitled to compensation from the defendant.
Have you been injured in a North Carolina car accident? Contact the personal injury attorneys at Caulder & Valentine to learn about your rights as an accident victim. We can help you recover the money you deserve after an unexpected accident and injury. Call today to request a consultation.