Losing a family member in an accident can be devastating, but the grief can be even more overwhelming when the accident was caused by the negligence or recklessness of another party. In these tragic circumstances, the family of the victim can pursue two different legal actions under North Carolina law: a wrongful death lawsuit and a survival action. Each of these legal actions addresses different losses.
Wrongful Death Lawsuit
A wrongful death lawsuit is brought by the family of the victim. The losses that the family can pursue include the pain and other emotional suffering that their loved one’s death has caused, the current loss and future loss of income and benefits the victim provided for the family, and funeral and burial expenses. Under the statute, the victim’s spouse, children, parents, or other legally recognized financial dependents of the victim can file the lawsuit.
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A survival action is typically filed by the victim’s estate, through a legal representative. This representative can be the executor of the estate or someone appointed by the court if the victim did not have an estate plan in place naming an executor. A survival action can be filed if there was a period between when the victim was injured and when they died. The damages that are pursued in a survival action are the same ones that the victim could have pursued if they had survived.
The damages that can be awarded in a survival action include the medical expenses that were incurred trying to save the victim’s life, loss of income between the time the victim was injured and they passed away, the pain and suffering the victim endured, and more. Whatever compensation is awarded to the family or they agree to in a settlement are distributed according to the victim’s will. If they did not have a will, then the funds will be distributed according to North Carolina’s intestacy laws.
There are multiple types of accidents in which the victim is killed, and the families can bring forward a wrongful death claim. Some of the more common are:
- Car accidents;
- Truck accidents;
- Motorcycle accidents;
- Pedestrian accidents;
- Bicycle accidents;
- Medical malpractice; and
- Dangerous or defective product injury.
Contact a Carolinas Injury Attorney
If you have lost a loved one, call the legal team at Shapiro & Appleton to find out what legal options you may have.
Our North Carolina personal injury firm has successfully represented many victims and their families and we are available to meet and discuss the circumstances of your case and how we may be able to help. We also offer a free wrongful death guide for families who have lost a loved one in an accident. The guide covers topics such as the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim, what types of damages can be pursued, and who can be appointed as personal representative.