Charlotte Fatal DUI Attorneys
Drunk driving continues to be a fatal problem in the United States. Every year drunk driving car accidents cause deaths and serious injuries. Fatal DUI car accidents are not limited to driving while under the influence of alcohol. On the contrary, fatal DUI accidents can be caused by the use of legal drugs, illegal drugs, and over-the-counter medications. Despite all of the campaigns conducted by the media and local governments, some drivers continue to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Drunk drivers who cause fatal accidents need to be held accountable for their actions. At Arnold & Smith, PLLC our skilled car accident attorneys have helped many clients recover damages in drunk driving accidents. Drunk drivers who cause the deaths of innocent victims are legally responsible for the damage their negligent driving caused the victim's families.
The families of victims who died in drunk driving accidents may have a right to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the drunk driver. If your loved one was killed in a drunk driving accident, your family might have a right to seek compensation in a North Carolina wrongful death lawsuit. Contact the skilled personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC today to schedule your free initial consultation.Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in North Carolina
North Carolina law allows an interested party to file a wrongful death claim when someone else’s wrongful behavior causes the death of their loved one. North Carolina’s Wrongful Death Act seeks to put the legal beneficiaries of the person who became deceased in the drunk driving accident in the position they would be in if the victim had not died. The following elements must occur in order for a plaintiff to file a wrongful death claim:
- A wrongful act, neglect, or fault of another caused the death of a person
- If the injured person had lived, he or she would have had a right to sue for his or her personal injuries
The plaintiff's family members must prove that the defendant's drunk driving violated his or her legal duty to act reasonably under the circumstances. The plaintiff must also show that the defendant's breach of his or her duty caused the death of the injured party.Who can File a Drunk Driving Wrongful Death Lawsuit in North Carolina?
Under North Carolina law, only the deceased’s personal representative has a right to file a wrongful death claim. The personal representative is typically named in the deceased person’s will. If the deceased person did not have a will or did not name a personal representative, a North Carolina probate court will designate an administrator of the estate to act as the personal representative.
Only particular beneficiaries have a right to receive compensation under North Carolina law. Only individuals who could inherit the deceased person's estate via North Carolina intestate succession laws can recover damages. The personal representative must file a wrongful death lawsuit within two years of the date the victim died. In limited circumstances, a North Carolina court may allow extending the statute of limitations, but it is a best practice to file the claim on time.What Damages are Available in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Successful plaintiffs in a wrongful death lawsuit are entitled to certain types of compensation or “damages” in legal terminology. The court calculates a number of damages based on the harm that the drunk driver’s actions caused the plaintiff. Under North Carolina law, courts can award plaintiffs the following types of damages in a civil personal injury lawsuit:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical expenses resulting from the injuries of the deceased person
- Compensation for pain and suffering
- Loss of future income resulting from the death of the victim
- Loss of the decedent’s protection, care, services, companionship, and guidance
When the plaintiff’s malicious, willful, or wanton conduct caused the death of the injured person, a North Carolina court may impose additional punitive damages. In some cases, courts determine that drunk or drugged driving does meet the standard for imposing punitive damages, especially when the defendant was excessively drunk while driving. Courts use punitive damages to punish the defendant in an attempt to deter others from engaging in similarly wanton behavior.We can Help
If your loved one died at the hands of a drunk or drugged driver, you might be entitled to compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit. Contact our Charlotte personal injury law firm today to schedule your initial consultation.