If your loved one passed away in an accident or at the hands of someone else’s wrongful actions, you might be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf. However, before moving forward and attempting to pursue compensation, it is imperative that you have a thorough understanding of the law regarding wrongful death in North Carolina
What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
When someone’s negligent, reckless or even intentionally wrongful act causes the death of a victim, the victim’s estate may be able to sue the perpetrator for the victim’s wrongful death.
Wrongful death causes of action are personal injury lawsuits that fall under the broad umbrella of tort law. This type of action seeks to compensate the victim’s estate so that it is in the same financial position it would have been had the defendant not wrongly caused the victim’s death.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in North Carolina?
In North Carolina, only the personal representative of the victim’s estate can file a wrongful death lawsuit. The personal representative may have been named in the victim’s estate plan; in this case, that individual would serve as the personal representative in a wrongful death claim. If a representative was not named in the estate plan, the court may choose to appoint someone else to this position.
What Does the Plaintiff Need to Prove to Succeed in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
North Carolina General Statute §28A-18-2 sets forth the legal requirements for bringing forth a wrongful death claim in North Carolina.
First, the plaintiff must file the wrongful death lawsuit within two years of the date of the victim’s death. Otherwise, North Carolina’s statute of limitations will prevent the plaintiff from ever filling the lawsuit.
Next, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant had a legal duty to the victim to act reasonably and breached that duty by a wrongful act. The plaintiff must also show that the wrongful act caused the victim’s death. The wrongful act can be negligence, which may have occurred if the defendant’s carelessness caused the death. Of course, the wrongful death could have also occurred as the result of an intentional act.
What Damages are Available in a North Carolina Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
North Carolina statutory law allows a successful wrongful death plaintiff to recover the following damages:
- The cost of medical expenses, including medical bills, hospital and ambulance bills and any costs associated with the treatment of the victim;
- Funeral expenses;
- Compensation for the victim’s pain and suffering;
- Compensation for loss of the victim’s income;
- Loss of the victim’s services of companionship and loss of the protection of and care from the victim;
- Punitive damages if the defendant acted with willful or wanton conduct; and
- Nominal damages when the jury so finds.
Contact an Attorney for Help
If your loved one passed away because of another person or business’ negligence, you need an experienced North Carolina wrongful death attorney to represent you in your wrongful death lawsuit effectively. Make sure you file your lawsuit before the statute of limitations runs out and prevents you from filing. For professional help, contact Howard, Stallings, From, Atkins, Angell & Davis, P.A. today.