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North Carolina wrongful death lawsuit: Who can file a claim?

On Behalf of | Sep 26, 2022 | Personal Injury |

Accidents happen all the time. When an accident results in another person’s injuries, the victim may pursue the negligent party for compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. However, if the injury leads to death, the victim still deserves justice. And this is where a wrongful death lawsuit comes in.

In North Carolina, wrongful death is defined as any death that is occasioned by another party’s negligent or wrongful actions. If you lose a loved one in an unpreventable death, the law allows you to sue the responsible party.

But can anyone sue for wrongful death in North Carolina?

It is important to understand that North Carolina, like all the other states, limit who bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the defendant. Under the state’s law, only the personal representative of the decedent’s estate can file a wrongful death lawsuit. If the decedent had a will, then the person named as the administrator would qualify as a personal representative and, thus, file the claim. However, if the decedent had no will, then the individual appointed under North Carolina intestacy laws can file the claim.

This lawsuit must be filed within the statute of limitations period. In North Carolina, this lawsuit must be filed within two years from the date of the victim’s death.

Recoverable damages in a wrongful death lawsuit

The decedent’s dependents can pursue the following damages in a wrongful death lawsuit:

  • Medical expenses (ambulance and ER care) that were incurred before the defendant succumbed to their injuries
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Loss of income (both current and future)
  • Loss of companionship, protection and care from the victim

Subject to the circumstances that lead to the victim’s death, the court may also award punitive damages. This usually happens if the deceased’s death was caused by drunk driving, gross negligence or other egregious circumstances.

Death under any circumstance is difficult to deal with. However, if you have lost a loved one due to another person’s reckless actions, you need to explore your legal options in order to hold the liable party accountable.