When vehicles collide on the highway, the results can be catastrophic. When an accident is fatal, the family members of the deceased may struggle with more than just grief. The loss of a loved one can significantly change the financial circumstances of the household due to the loss of the deceased’s income, household services, and companionship. Additionally, the surviving family members oftentimes must cover medical expenses of the deceased, burial/funeral costs, and other accident-related expenses.
Family members of the deceased may be able to recover compensation to cover these costs by filing a wrongful death claim against the negligent parties responsible for the accident that resulted in the death of their loved one.
Proving a wrongful death claim
Under North Carolina’s wrongful death statute, spouses, children, and parents of the decedent, as well as personal representatives of the decedent’s estate, can file a wrongful death claim up to two years after the decedent’s death.
To recover compensation after a loved one’s death, surviving family members must establish the following:
- Another party breached a duty owed to the decedent – For example, another driver may have breached their duty to operate their vehicle safely by driving at an excessive rate of speed.
- The breach of duty directly and proximately caused the accident – The accident was foreseeable and would not have occurred but for the other driver’s failure to follow traffic laws.
- The accident resulted in the death of the decedent.
If your loved one passed away in an accident, an attorney can help you decide whether to file a wrongful death claim for damages.