When a driver behaves negligently behind the wheel, he or she can cause serious or even fatal injury. In this case, the family of the deceased person can file a wrongful death lawsuit to recoup costs associated with the tragedy, such as final medical expenses, burial costs, lost companionship, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Review the details about wrongful death in North Carolina if you lost a family member in a devastating auto accident.
Defining wrongful death
To successfully sue for wrongful death, you must show the court that the defendant’s negligent actions directly led to the death of your family member. Negligence means that a person had a duty to behave a certain way and failed to do so. In the case of a motor vehicle accident, examples of negligence include drunk or impaired driving, device use while driving, or speeding.
Understanding available damages
The loved ones of a person who suffered wrongful death can ask the court for compensation that covers both monetary costs such as funeral expenses and non-monetary costs such as loss of emotional support and guidance. Other available damages include medical expenses arising from the incident, loss of services such as parenting performed by the deceased person, loss of future projected net income, pain and suffering, and loss of companionship and love. North Carolina allows additional punitive damages in cases involving malicious or willful negligence.
If your family member had a will, only the person named as his or her personal representative can file a lawsuit for wrongful death. Otherwise, the court will appoint the person’s spouse, parents or adult children depending on his or her family situation.