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What You Need to Know About North Carolina’s Wrongful Death Statute

May 26, 2022 Brown Moore Wrongful Death

In North Carolina, when someone dies because another party was negligent or careless, often, their surviving loved ones have the option of pursuing financial compensation by filing a wrongful death lawsuit. Like most states, North Carolina has a specific law defining when someone can take legal action in the wake of a loved one’s accidental death.

This brief overview will help you better understand the relevant law in North Carolina. However, be aware that the best way to learn more about whether you have a valid wrongful death case is to coordinate with an expert. A North Carolina wrongful death attorney can review the details of your case and advise you on your legal options.

Understanding North Carolina’s Wrongful Death Statute

The specific North Carolina law defines wrongful death and outlines the steps surviving loved ones can take in pursuit of compensation when someone is the victim of wrongful death is N.C. Gen. Stat. § 28A-18-2. The law states:

“When the death of a person is caused by a wrongful act, neglect or default of another, such as would, if the injured person had lived, have entitled the injured person to an action for damages therefor, the person or corporation that would have been so liable, and the personal representatives or collectors of the person or corporation that would have been so liable, shall be liable to an action for damages, to be brought by the personal representative or collector of the decedent; and this notwithstanding the death, and although the wrongful act, neglect or default, causing the death, amounts in law to a felony.”

In other words, if your loved one had survived the accident that caused their death, but would still have had the right to file a claim or lawsuit to seek compensation for their own losses, you have the right to seek compensation by filing a wrongful death claim or lawsuit.

The law also defines which types of damages one can pursue compensation for in these circumstances. They include the following:

  • Expenses for any medical care the deceased may have received to treat injuries resulting from the accident that ultimately claimed their life
  • Compensation for the pain and suffering of the individual who passed away
  • Reasonable funeral expenses
  • Compensation for the deceased’s net income
  • Compensation for loss of the deceased’s care, protection, and services
  • Compensation for the general companionship the deceased provided to loved ones

Depending on the circumstances, it may also be possible to recover punitive damages. Punitive damages don’t represent compensation for any specific loss. Rather, they serve to punish the negligent party.

Ideally, punitive damages will disincline the liable party from engaging in negligence again in the future. This highlights an important point. Often, when someone pursues compensation after a loved one’s wrongful death, they are not merely helping themselves recover money to cover the various losses they may have sustained as a result of a tragic event. They are also protecting others by ensuring that negligent parties understand there will be consequences when they fail to exercise proper care.

Contact a North Carolina Wrongful Death Attorney Today

Wrongful death cases can be very complex. If you suspect you may have justification to file a lawsuit because your loved one died as a result of negligence, get in touch with our team at Brown Moore & Associates, PLLC to discuss your case. Contact us online today to schedule your free consultation.