When a car accident results in fatal injuries, surviving family members are left with grief, difficult questions, and often financial hardship. If the accident was caused by the careless or negligent actions of another person, surviving family members have the right to pursue compensation via a wrongful death lawsuit.
While the legal process can prove complex, a favorable outcome can provide a sense of justice as well as much-needed financial resources.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in North Carolina?
Under North Carolina laws, the right to initiate a wrongful death claim belongs to the personal representative of the deceased person’s (the decedent’s) estate. This person may be a close family member or trusted fiduciary, and is typically named in the decedent’s will if they had one.
While the personal representative files the wrongful death claim, the people benefiting from it will be the spouse, children, or other close family members of the decedent.
An experienced wrongful death lawyer can review your situation to help you determine if you qualify to receive compensation in a lawsuit arising from a fatal car accident.
Who Is at Fault?
Not every fatal car accident gives rise to a wrongful death claim. In order to qualify as a wrongful death under North Carolina law, the accident must have been caused by the careless or negligent actions of another person, business, or organization.
In approaching a wrongful death claim, an attorney must determine the cause of the accident and identify all liable parties. In a case arising from a fatal car accident, the at-fault party is often a careless driver who was drunk, distracted, speeding, running a red light, or engaging in other reckless behavior.
Other liable parties may include a bar that served alcohol to a drunk driver, or a trucking company that required their drivers to operate 18-wheelers without adequate rest.
In some cases, a combination of two or more parties may be liable. In handling your wrongful death claim, an attorney should consider all potential at-fault parties—and all sources of compensation.
What Compensation Is Available?
Every case is unique, but North Carolina laws allow surviving family members to pursue compensation for:
- Medical bills arising from the car accident
- Conscious pain and suffering the accident victim endured
- Lost income that dependent family members will be deprived of
- Loss of companionship, comfort, guidance, and household services
- Funeral and burial expenses
Insurance companies do not pay the full value of wrongful death claims out of goodwill. A skilled attorney knows how to prepare convincing cases that compel them to pay and treat surviving family members fairly.
Protect Your Rights by Acting Today
The statute of limitations for wrongful death claims in North Carolina is typically two years. Talk with an experienced wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible to avoid delays that could cause you to lose your legal standing.
The attorneys at Rhine Law Firm are here to answer your questions about wrongful death lawsuits in North Carolina and to protect your right to full and fair compensation after a fatal car accident.