Grounds for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in North Carolina
Wrongful death cases happen every day. An 80-year-old woman was killed in a crash while leaving church, according to an August 2017 article in the Charlotte Observer.
The woman was in her vehicle and pulling out of the Firestone Wesleyan Church parking lot after Sunday service. Her vehicle was struck on the driver’s side by another vehicle. That vehicle was driven by an 18-year-old.
Immediately after the accident, both drivers were transported to CaroMont Regional Medical Center. However, the car accident victim was later transferred to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte. She died at the second hospital.
At the time of the report, police did not believe impaired driving or speed were factors in the crash. Distracted driving had not been ruled out of the investigation. No criminal charges were filed against the 18-year-old driver.
The pastor said most of the 150-member congregation saw the accident. They tried to assist both women after the accident and direct traffic. They also prayed for the woman.
The article did not mention whether the 80-year-old woman’s family planned to file a wrongful death claim against the 18-year-old driver. A wrongful death claim is a civil lawsuit filed because of wrongdoing that led to an individual’s untimely death.
The Definition of Charlotte Wrongful Death According to North Carolina General Statute § 28A-18-2
A wrongful death is an untimely death of an individual caused by another person’s negligence. Negligence is the failure on a party’s part to do the same thing another party would have done in the same or similar circumstance. The “party” in the lawsuit is known as the defendant and can be a person or company.
North Carolina’s statute goes further to include the cause of the negligence. Some accidents just occur and no one was at fault. Those accidents are sad tragedies and a family cannot sue for damages. Other accidents are preventable and only happen because of a defendant’s negligence.
The state’s statute defines negligence as a:
- Wrongful act;
- Negligent act; or
- The fault of another person or entity.
Only certain family members can sue on their loved one’s behalf. According to North Carolina law, it must be the loved one’s personal representative. If they did not have a personal representative, a court may name one for the family. It could be the loved one’s spouse, parent or children.
The Type of Wrongful or Negligent Acts in a Charlotte Wrongful Death Claim
Negligence is a general term. It describes a wrongful or negligent act. In other words, there is a right way to avoid harming someone. In law, that right way is called a reasonable person standard.
According to the reasonable person standard, an individual is supposed to act as a reasonable person would in the same and/or similar situation. This reasonable person does not exist. Instead, standards exist to compare the defendant’s actions with the right thing to do in the same situation.
An example of this would be a defendant who speeds while driving. They cause an accident that kills another individual. The right thing would have been to drive at the posted speed limit. The law assumes that this is what a reasonable driver would do in the same situation. Since a reasonable driver would drive at the proper speed, the defendant would be found negligent for speeding.
Types of negligent or wrongful acts that can result in killing an innocent individual are:
- Car accidents;
- Brain injuries;
- Bicycle accidents;
- Defective products;
- Prescription drug injuries;
- Motorcycle accidents;
- Drunk driving accidents;
- Pedestrian accidents;
- Work-related accidents;
- Slip and fall injuries; and
- Truck accidents.
A nursing home wrongful death claim is the result of a neglectful act. A nursing home had a legal duty to protect a patient from harm. Instead, it may have neglected the patient and aided in their death. A caretaker can also be sued for wrongful death if they neglect their patient and aid in their death.
Damages a Family Can Seek in a Charlotte Wrongful Death Claim
The legal word for money in a civil lawsuit is damages. When an individual dies, their family incurs damages. The damages vary depending on the accident and type of injuries sustained. North Carolina law permits a family to receive damages for their loved one’s death such as:
- The loved one’s medical care, treatment and hospitalization connected to the accident;
- The pain and suffering the loved one suffered because of the accident;
- Reasonable funeral and burial expenses;
- Companionship lost because of the loved one’s untimely death;
- The loved one’s net income; and
- Possible punitive damages.
Punitive damages are not given all of the time in a wrongful death claim. The defendant must do something malicious or willful to cause the individual’s death. Punitive damages are not generally available in a settlement.
Charlotte Wrongful Death Lawsuit has a Statute of Limitations Attached to it
The state has set a statute of limitations regarding filing a wrongful death claim. The claim must be filed two years from the date of the loved one’s death. If a family member fails to file the lawsuit by that time, they are banned from pursuing the claim.
The lawsuit does not have to be resolved within that two-year period; the lawsuit must simply be filed.
Schedule a Free and Confidential Initial Consultation with Brown, Moore & Associates, PLLC Regarding Your Charlotte Wrongful Death Claim
Your family member did not have to die. The other party had a legal duty to protect your family member from harm. A legal duty breach is why your loved one died.
You may not be certain that your loved one died because of someone’s negligence, or you may be certain, based on the facts, that someone’s negligence caused your family member’s death. Your next step should be to contact us about your loved one’s death.
We can offer a free and confidential initial consultation. During your consultation, we will listen to you explain the circumstances surrounding your family member’s death. We will tell you if you have a basis for a wrongful death claim. We will then tell you how we will proceed on your case to best maximize any possible recovery. Contact us today to talk to an experienced lawyer.