When someone dies in a North Carolina auto accident, his or her family may have a wrongful death lawsuit. They can seek legal compensation for expenses associated with the person’s loss.
Review the process of filing a wrongful death claim in North Carolina.
Negligence and wrongful death
The family member bringing the lawsuit must prove negligence on behalf of the defendant. For example, they could sue for wrongful death if a loved one died in a collision with a drunk driver. Even if the deceased person had up to 50% responsibility for the accident, the family can recoup a percentage of available losses under the contributory negligence law in North Carolina.
Compensation in a state wrongful death case can include damages for loss of companionship, loss of care, loss of services performed by the deceased person, the person’s projected future income, pain and suffering, funeral expenses, and medical bills resulting from the fatal accident. In cases involving malicious or willful negligence, the family can ask for punitive damages.
A deceased person’s family has two years to file a wrongful death lawsuit under North Carolina law. If the person died with a valid will naming a personal representative, that person must file the lawsuit on behalf of the family. Otherwise, the family can ask the court to appoint a member to act as their representative.
If the court awards wrongful death damages, the personal representative will pay attorney fees, medical expenses and funeral costs. He or she will then allocate the rest of the award to the deceased’s surviving spouse and children.