PLEASE NOTE: Until further notice, our offices will remain open during normal business hours. To ensure the safety of our clients, we are recommending contacting us by phone as your first option, though we are available to meet in person if necessary, and are taking all proper precautions in such cases. As always, initial phone consultations are always free.

North Carolina’s wrongful death statute explained

When a person in North Carolina has been killed due to the negligence or wrongful actions of another, the decedent’s surviving family members may be able to pursue a wrongful death civil lawsuit against the person whose actions resulted in their loved one’s death. The ability to do so rests in a specific state statute that provides what types of damages may be recovered.

According to North Carolina G.S. 28A-18-2, the representative of the deceased person’s state may file such a lawsuit against the wrongful person if the deceased person would have been able to sue for personal injury if they had lived. The law indicates that such a civil suit can be filed even if a criminal case is pending.

Under the statute, there are multiple categories of damages that may be recovered through a wrongful death lawsuit. These include the medical expenses for any treatment received prior to the decedent’s death, the pain and suffering experienced by the decedent, reasonable funeral expenses and lost expected net income. Other types of recoverable damages include the loss of protection dependents would have otherwise received, the loss of companionship a spouse would have enjoyed, punitive damages the decedent would have received if they had survived to file a personal injury lawsuit, punitive damages if the death was a result of intentional or wanton conduct and nominal damages.

A wrongful death lawsuit may provide a vehicle through which the decedent’s family may recover compensation for the significant losses they have suffered due to their loved one’s death. As with any other type of civil lawsuit, there are strict statutory deadlines for filing such a case. People do not need to wait for a criminal case to end in order to file their suit. They may want to consult with a personal injury attorney in order to make certain they file in time.

FindLaw Network