A Fatal Car Accident May Result in Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Posted by Josh Valentine | Apr 16, 2018

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:

  1. The defendant had a duty to prevent harm
  2. The defendant breached this duty in some way, and
  3. 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:

  1. Medical expenses related to the care, treatment, and hospitalization of the victim before death
  2. Pain and suffering
  3. Funeral and burial expenses
  4. Value of lost income, service, care and assistance, and companionship the victim would have provided, and
  5. 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.

About the Author

Josh Valentine

You could say Josh has a God-given ability for sustaining long-term relationships. He and his wife first met in elementary school and went to Gardner Webb University (GWU) together, where they tied for number 1 in their class. Then, they both started law school on the same day of their graduation and got married during their first semester. He has also known his law partner Blake Caulder since Kindergarten. Theirs is the perfect partnership. “He’s the brake; I am the accelerator,” Josh says. Both Josh and his wife attended an innovative program at Charlotte Law School that allowed them to complete law school in two years instead of the typical three. His wife graduated and passed the North Carolina bar at age 20, becoming one of the youngest attorneys in the state. He readily admits she’s smarter than him. Of course, Josh went on to pass the North Carolina State Bar himself and later the South Carolina State Bar. While in school, he was Associate Editor of the Law Review and received accolades like Phi Delta Phi International Legal Honor Society membership, Order of the Crown, Pro Bono Honors, CALI Awards (highest grade). In his career as a lawyer, he has been admitted to the United States Federal Court for the Western District of North Carolina, is a member of the American Association of Premier DUI Attorneys, and completed training for DWI Detection & Standardized Field Sobriety Testing. Josh has also been named to the Top 40 Under 40 for Criminal Defense by The National Trial Lawyers, the Business North Carolina 2019 Legal Elite for Criminal Defense, and the 10 Best Attorneys for Client Satisfaction by the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys three years in a row (2016, 2017, and 2018). Community involvement has been important to Josh all his life. In high school, he participated in building a Holocaust museum that has become internationally regarded. He and his wife are actively engaged in animal rescue, which currently means seven cats and two kittens. He served in prison ministry and assisted with fundraiser banquets there, and he provides pro bono and reduced fee legal services to those in need. As if all of that weren’t enough, Josh also mentors high risk youth and helps with his church’s youth group. He participates in other community volunteer projects involving construction, remodeling, drywall, painting, and landscaping. He’s an active student of the Bible and has traveled to Israel, Brazil, and Europe for mission work. No one can say Josh isn’t a well-rounded individual. In his spare time, he likes to play softball, basketball, and tennis, and he can play the piano and trombone. Sometimes on weekends, believe it or not, he enjoys pouring and finishing concrete with friends who own a concrete and grading business. In his law practice, Josh has made it a point to develop positive relationships with officers, clerks, and district attorneys, which has proven invaluable in delivering positive results for his clients. It’s important to him to both listen to his clients and fight for them. Law enforcement officers have important responsibilities to keep our communities safe and uphold the law, but one of the responsibilities of attorneys is to make sure officers do their job correctly. Josh considers it his job to hold them accountable for their actions. Josh is a person of deep faith. He knows that the established order of our universe and strength of America’s Judeo-Christian influenced court system is built on God’s word. His passion to serve each client with innovation, excellence and integrity is a byproduct of his faith. When asked why he became a lawyer, Josh says, “All through my life, I have personally witnessed family members and very close friends endure divorce, child custody battles, bankruptcy, civil lawsuits, and even fraudulent criminal accusations. I both saw and experienced the stress such events can place on an individual, and I realized that everyone, at some point in their life, needs hope, comfort, and encouragement. In each one of those situations, the person who was best situated to provide that vital support was their lawyer. So that’s why I became an attorney. I understand what you are going through, and I’m here to help you. Our office is focused on meeting your needs and guiding you through what may be the most difficult time of your life.” Education: Charlotte School of Law J.D., Magna Cum Laude Class Rank – 21 of 328 Associate Editor of Charlotte School of Law Law Review Certification and Concentration in Employment Law Phi Delta Phi International Legal Honor Society Order of the Crown Pro Bono Honors CALI Awards (Highest Grade)—Lawyering Process I and Contracts I Full Scholarship Gardner-Webb University B.S. in Accounting, Summa Cum Laude Distinguished Senior Student Award – Highest GPA Alpha Sigma Lambda National Honorary Society Bar Admissions: North Carolina State Bar