Can I Sue If My Loved One Was Killed in a Pedestrian Accident?

When negligent drivers collide with pedestrians, pedestrians are more likely to suffer severe, catastrophic injuries or even death. They do not have the external protection of a vehicle and can experience internal organ damage, brain injuries, and more. If your loved one died in a pedestrian accident, you are probably experiencing a wide range of emotions as you grieve your loved one's death. You may be facing crushing medical bills from your loved one's emergency medical treatment before they pass away.

You may also face severe financial hardships as you lose your loved one's income. While nothing can bring your loved one back, pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit can help you and your loved ones move forward financially. Wrongful death lawsuits also allow surviving family members to hold the at-fault party responsible for causing their loved one's death.

What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

A wrongful death lawsuit is a death caused "by a wrongful act, neglect, or default of another" person or entity whose results would have resulted had the victim survived. In other words, if your loved one had survived and had a legal right to bring a lawsuit against the person who caused their injuries, you may have a right to bring a wrongful death lawsuit on your loved one's behalf.

In pedestrian accidents, surviving family members may be able to bring a lawsuit against the driver who negligently collided with their loved one. They may also have a claim against any other negligent parties. For example, suppose a mechanic fails to properly maintain a semi-truck, and the lack of maintenance causes the accident. In that case, the mechanic may be at fault. Working with an attorney is a meaningful way to investigate and identify any and all parties whose negligence may have caused your loved one's death so you can hold them accountable.

The Statute of Limitations in Wrongful Death Lawsuits

A statute of limitations is a time limit for certain types of lawsuits. Under North Carolina law, the statute of limitations for wrongful death cases is two years from the date of the victim's death. There are a few exceptions to this rule, but in pedestrian accidents, the time limit is generally two years from the accident date.

Two years may seem like a long time, but it is essential that you discuss your case with an attorney as soon as possible. The more time that passes after the accident and before you file a lawsuit, the more likely evidence will get destroyed, and witnesses will forget what happened. Your attorney will need time to gather evidence and depose witnesses, so the sooner you speak to a personal injury attorney, the better.

Do I Have a Right to File a Pedestrian Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Some states have laws that limit which people can file wrongful-death lawsuits on behalf of their loved ones. North Carolina is one of those states. Under North Carolina law, the only individual who can file a wrongful death lawsuit is the executor identified in the person's will or administrator of the estate as appointed by the probate court through intestacy laws. Usually, the administrator or executive is a surviving spouse, a parent, or an adult child. Those with felony convictions are unqualified to serve as administrators of another person's estate.

What Damages Are Available?

Damages are the financial compensation a victim's family member can obtain through a successful wrongful death lawsuit. There are economic and non-economic damages available in North Carolina wrongful death lawsuits. Economic damages are easy to quantify, such as your loved one's burial and funeral expenses, medical bills, and loss of income.

Non-economic damages provide compensation for the damages that are less easy to quantify, such as pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and loss of protection. Additional punitive damages might be available if the defendant engaged in willful, wanton, or egregious behavior. For example, if the defendant was severely intoxicated when he caused the pedestrian accident, punitive damages may be available.

Discuss Your Case With a Compassionate Personal Injury Attorney

Taking steps to begin the process of filing a wrongful death lawsuit can be overwhelming. The compassionate attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, can help you every step of the way. We understand that grieving your loved one's loss is difficult enough, and we'll handle every aspect of your case to pursue justice on behalf of your family and your loved one. Contact the Charlotte personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, today to schedule your free case evaluation.

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