Can I File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit For a Car Accident?

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The mangled front in of a vehicle after a car accident that caused a wrongful death.According to the North Carolina Department of Transportation, there were 1,653 fatal car crashes in 2021, with 1,783 people killed.

Losing a family member in a car accident is one of the most tragic and devastating events that a family can experience. When the accident was caused because of someone else’s negligence, the surviving family may be entitled to receive compensation for the losses they have suffered.

A wrongful death claim may be filed when a family member is killed in a car accident. North Carolina has laws governing who can file such a lawsuit as well as the timeframe in which legal action must begin.

Successful lawsuits must have strong evidence to prove that your family member’s death was truly a wrongful death.

What Is the Compensation for Death in a Car Accident?

If your loved one was killed in a car accident, there are various losses that may be recovered in a wrongful death lawsuit. These damages may include:

  • Medical bills from before the victim died
  • Funeral expenses
  • Loss of the victim’s income or financial support
  • Pain and suffering the victim suffered before death
  • Pain and suffering caused to the family, such as loss of companionship and emotional support

What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?

According to Forbes, a wrongful death occurs when a person or entity fails to fulfill a legal duty and causes a death to occur. When this happens in cases involving a car accident, the failure may be caused by another driver failing to drive safely and obey the rules of the road, or the government may be responsible because they failed to properly maintain the road.

There are countless possibilities for a wrongful death from a car accident, and the unique details of your family member’s accident will determine whether or not you have a valid wrongful death claim.

When someone dies because of the reckless, intentional, or negligent actions of someone else, their death is considered a wrongful death. The cause of their death may have been the fault of another person or a business or entity, such as a government agency.

When a wrongful death has occurred, the victim’s family may be able to file a wrongful death claim against the person or party responsible. The first step is to contact a wrongful death attorney to learn about your legal rights and options in your unique circumstances.

What Constitutes a Wrongful Death Claim?

The legal representative of the victim of a wrongful death is able to pursue a wrongful death claim in North Carolina. No amount of money will ever be enough to make up for the loss of your loved one.

The purpose of a wrongful death lawsuit is for financial compensation for the victim’s family. Damages typically include any remaining medical expenses, the cost of the funeral, and the pain and suffering of the family as well as the victim before the death.

The surviving spouse and children may also request financial support depending on the circumstances.

A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil case that must prove that the victim died because of the wrongful actions of others. In order to be successful, the wrongful death attorney must prove four elements showing that the defendant is responsible for the victim’s death.

If any of these factors cannot be proven, the death of the victim would not constitute a wrongful death and would be considered to have been caused by some other reason.

What Are the Four Elements of a Wrongful Death Claim?

The four elements required to prove a wrongful death claim are as follows:

  1. The defendant owed your family member a duty of care
  2. The defendant breached that duty of care
  3. The breach of care caused the accident
  4. Your family member’s death caused damage to your family

Duty of Care

Your family member must have been owed a duty of care from the defendant. The duty of care generally means that someone must refrain from causing harm to another person.

For example, when someone drives a car on a public road, they owe a duty of care to everyone else sharing that road and must, therefore, drive safely and abide by the rules of the road. Your lawyer must prove that the defendant was obligated to keep your family member safe.

Breached Duty of Care

Once the duty of care has been established, the lawyer must then prove that the defendant did not uphold the duty owed to the victim. For example, the defendant may have been speeding or failed to stop at a red traffic light.

The Breach of Care Caused the Accident

Every wrongful death case is different. There are countless scenarios, circumstances, and situations that may have caused a single accident.

The lawyer must be able to prove that the breach of duty is what caused the accident. For example, if the defendant was speeding and collided with the victim, the lawyer must prove that the excessive speed was to blame for causing the accident.

They can do this by proving that the accident would not have occurred had the defendant been driving at a safe and legal speed using expert witnesses and evidence of stopping distances and reaction times.

This is where the lawyer will need as much proof as possible and evidence to back up the claims.

The Victim’s Death Caused Damages to Your Family

You must have suffered damages from the loss of your loved one. These damages may include:

  • Funeral Expenses
  • Medical Bills
  • Lost Income
  • Emotional Distress
  • Loss of Services

After these four elements have been established, the wrongful death attorney must present evidence of damages for which compensation is being pursued.

The proof only has to show the defendant’s recklessness is true by above fifty percent of surety because wrongful death cases are civil trials and not criminal trials where the evidence must prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

The main two factors to consider while building your case are whether the defendant was negligent and the amount of compensation you should receive for your damages. Strong evidence of negligence includes any legal documentation showing fault or the verdict of a criminal trial, if available.

However, you may still file a claim without a criminal trial, as it may not take place until after your case has been filed and possibly even settled. Your wrongful death attorney will help you by investigating your family member’s accident to determine fault and proof of negligence.

Your lawyer will also consult with an economist to determine the full amount of compensation that you will be able to pursue.

People without legal knowledge and experience in investigating accidents will find proving their case very difficult. The North Carolina wrongful death attorneys at Tatum & Atkinson know how to build a strong case and will get you the compensation that you are entitled to receive.

What Is the Average Car Accident Settlement in North Carolina?

There are too many variables between different car accidents to have an accurate average settlement amount. There are many factors that go into determining how much the compensation for a wrongful death from a car accident will be.

You may be able to seek compensation for certain factors, such as the following:

  • The number of victims involved
  • The severity of injuries
  • The number of the victim’s dependents
  • The impact of the loss of the victim on the family
  • The amount of recklessness involved in the cause of the accident
  • The available amount of insurance
  • How long the victim’s family is able to wait for the settlement

There are many other factors that go into determining the amount of compensation a car accident wrongful death may warrant. Discussing the details of your situation is the best way to discover your options and potential settlement after a car accident.

There are no two cases that are exactly alike, so comparing your circumstances to that of another may give you a false impression.

Who May File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in North Carolina?

According to North Carolina law, only the personal representative of the victim may file a lawsuit for a wrongful death. The lawsuit is filed on behalf of the victim’s estate, so the personal representative may or may not be eligible to receive any of the compensation depending on who the victim appointed as their representative.

North Carolina law also dictates who may receive compensation from a wrongful death lawsuit, and the amount must be distributed according to this law regardless of what is stated in the victim’s will.

A wrongful death attorney will help you determine who may file your lawsuit and who will receive the compensation for damages. Your attorney will also help you understand any other pertinent laws and guide you through the legal process of the case.

If you have lost a loved one in a car accident, the best thing you can do is consult with an experienced lawyer to make sure that your family’s rights are protected.

Work With a North Carolina Wrongful Death Law Firm to Protect Your Family’s Rights After a Car Accident

We at Tatum & Atkinson: The Heavy Hitters understand the devastating impact of losing a family member in a car accident. You do not have to fight for justice and compensation on your own.

Call (800) LAW-0804 for a free consultation to discuss your circumstances, and we will explain your options and how we will help you. We will get started right away to make sure that you receive the best possible outcome from such a tragic event.

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