Under North Carolina civil law, when a person dies due to another's negligence, the survivors of the deceased can file a wrongful death claim against them seeking damages.
While wrongful death claims can arise from accidents on the job, medical mistakes and product liability, the predominant source of this type of litigation is auto accidents. Depending on the circumstances of the person's death, the defendant may be one or more individuals or a company.
The financial dependents of the deceased and his or her immediate family have the right to file wrongful death lawsuits in most cases. Usually, the executor of the estate will file the suit on behalf of all the claimants.
There are three separate ways damages may be awarded in a wrongful death case:
-- Economic, as compensation for the monetary impact of their loved one's death. The family now has to function without the financial contributions of the deceased and may also be responsible for paying for their funeral and medical bills.
-- Non-economic damages sometimes include a loss of consortium, companionship and the pain and suffering the person experienced before he or she died.
-- Punitive damages may also be awarded if the defendant broke the law and the person died as a result.
It is a complex process to calculate damages and arrive at the dollar value of a person's life. At times, an economist or actuary will testify to the monetary value of the person's contributions as a parent or caretaker.
While no amount of money is compensation enough for the loss of a beloved family member, receiving a financial award can help to make the lives easier for the family members of the deceased.
Source: ambulancechasing.net, "Wrongful Death Suits" accessed Feb. 27, 2015