My husband and I were in an automobile accident in North Carolina. He had severe injuries, and eleven months later he died from complications of those injuries. Can I bring a lawsuit against the truck driver who collided with us, even though so much time has passed?

Yes. Specifically, you will want to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver who caused your traffic accident in North Carolina.

When someone is injured as a result of another person’s negligence, he has the right to file a lawsuit to recover compensation for his losses. If those injuries are so severe that the person dies, obviously he cannot begin a legal action. However, the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate can file a wrongful death claim against the negligent person. Simply put, this legal action says, “Your irresponsible behavior robbed my family of an important presence in our lives, and you need to be held accountable.”

Some people think that filing a wrongful death claim in North Carolina is profiting from the death of another. That’s simply not the case. In your case, the loss of your husband has left you worse off emotionally and financially. The money you might be awarded for your lawsuit goes to pay back your expenses during your husband’s last few months of life and to make sure you have just as solid a financial footing as you would have had if he had lived. You aren’t getting more than you deserve.

To prove a wrongful death claim, your North Carolina traffic accident lawyer will need to prove that the truck driver failed to exercise a reasonable level of care when the collision occurred. If your attorney’s investigation shows that the driver indeed was negligent, he can be held accountable for all the results that follow from his wrongful actions.

If you win a jury trial for your wrongful death action, you can be compensated for any of the following:

  • Medical care and hospitalization for your husband, to a maximum value of $4,500
  • Compensation for pain and suffering of the decedent
  • Funeral expenses
  • Loss of your husband’s future income, services, care, companionship, and advice
  • Punitive damages, if the driver who caused the accident was acting maliciously or with reckless disregard for the harms that could follow

Time Is Short to Claim Your Rights

The North Carolina statute of limitations on wrongful death claims is two years, dating from the time of death. However, a wrongful death claim is said to be derivative, because it depends on whether the injured person could have sued for damages if he had lived. For this reason, you also have to abide by the three-year statute of limitations for negligence lawsuits, dated from the day of your traffic accident.

These legal rules can be confusing. If you still have questions, Speaks Law Firm stands ready to help you. You can schedule a free consultation with one of our Wilmington personal injury attorneys by calling us today at 910-341-7570 or (statewide toll-free) at 877-593-4233. Give us a chance to explain how we can move forward with your case before the statutes of limitations run out.

R. Clarke Speaks
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Trial Lawyer and Founder of Speaks Law Firm, P.C.