Losing a loved one in a car crash is never easy. As much as you want to just stop time and grieve, the world keeps on turning without your loved one in it. And if another person caused the collision that killed your loved one by acting negligently or recklessly, you are left not only with grief but also with a sense that justice should be done. In such situations you may want to pursue a wrongful death claim.
Wrongful death claims serve two purposes. First, if successful it can provide you with the financial compensation you need to become whole again. Second, it can give you the satisfaction of knowing the person who did wrong was held accountable for the death of your loved one. Therefore, it is good to have a basic understanding of what is needed to pursue a wrongful death claim in North Carolina.
A wrongful death claim is a type of personal injury lawsuit or "tort" claim. A personal representative of the deceased's estate can file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the deceased's survivors. If it can be shown that the defendant was negligent, and this negligence caused the death of your loved one, and this death caused you to experience financial damages, the wrongful death claim may prevail.
There are a variety of damages that can be pursued in a wrongful death claim. One type of compensation that can be awarded is the compensation for the deceased's net income. Compensation for the services, protection, care and assistance the deceased provided may also be awarded. In addition, compensation for the companionship, comfort and guidance the deceased provided may be awarded.
Punitive damages go above and beyond what you need to be financially whole again. Punitive damages are meant to punish the wrongdoer and deter further egregious actions. Under North Carolina law, punitive damages may be awarded if the deceased could have recovered them had they survived, and the negligent actions of the wrongdoer were also malicious or committed willfully or wantonly.
Wrongful death claims can bring a sense of closure following the loss of a loved one due to another person's negligence. If you believe you have grounds for pursuing a wrongful death claim in North Carolina, you will want to make sure you understand your rights and options before proceeding.