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Can I Seek Compensation for a Family Member’s Wrongful Death After a Car Accident?

If you have lost somebody that you love as a result of the negligent actions of another driver on the roadway, you may be able to recover compensation for your losses. However, wrongful death laws in North Carolina can be challenging to understand, particularly when it comes to determining who exactly can file a wrongful death claim. Here, we want to examine how wrongful death claims arise, who can file the case, and the types of compensation available.

Wrongful Death Claims in North Carolina

In the state of North Carolina, wrongful death is defined as a fatality that is caused “by wrongful act, neglect, or default of another” individual or entity, specifically of the kind that would have allowed the deceased individual to file a personal injury lawsuit had they survived the incident (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 28A-18-2 (2021).

For the purposes of a wrongful death claim after a vehicle accident, it is helpful to ask the question, “Would my loved one have been able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver in this case?”

If the answer is yes, then it is very likely that a wrongful death claim will be appropriate. However, North Carolina law is very specific about who is allowed to file these claims in court.

Who Can File These Claims?

Many states around the country allow a deceased individual’s surviving family members to file a wrongful death claim in civil court. However, in North Carolina, the only ones who can file wrongful death lawsuits are the personal representatives of the deceased individual’s estate.

If the deceased had a will, then it is very likely that there will be a named personal representative there. However, if the person named in the will cannot serve as the personal representative, or if there was no estate plan in place, the court is allowed to appoint another individual. It is not uncommon for surviving family members, such as spouses, parents, or adult children, to be named as the personal representative or executor of the estate.

Types of Compensation Available

There may be various types of compensation available to the estate and surviving family members of the deceased. This includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Any medical bills arising as a result of the injury that caused the death
  • Pain and suffering experienced by the deceased before their death
  • Payment for funeral and burial expenses
  • Loss of the deceased’s income and benefits
  • Loss of the deceased’s protection, care, services, and assistance
  • Loss of companionship, guidance, comfort, and society of the deceased

Time Limit for Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in NC

It is crucial for personal representatives and family members to know that there is a limited amount of time to file wrongful death claims after a car accident. In North Carolina, the wrongful death statute of limitations is two years from the date of a person’s death. We strongly encourage you to work with a skilled attorney as soon as possible to ensure that your claim is filed on time and filed appropriately. Call us today to speak with a Raleigh car accident lawyer.