Fatal traffic accidents, unfortunately, happen on a regular basis in and around Durham, North Carolina (NC).  If you lost a loved one in such an accident, we are very sorry for your loss. The information on this page is meant to be a resource for you and your family so you can get a basic understanding of your legal options.Our team of North Carolina car accident attorneys have handled multiple fatal car wreck cases and want to explain the claim process:

Filing a Car Accident Wrongful Death Claim in North Carolina

A wrongful death claim must be brought by a personal representative of the victim. The personal representative can be the executor of the victim’s estate. If the person killed by negligence of a third party had a will, there will likely be a provision in the will indicating who the executor shall be.If the victim of an accidental death did not have a will, or fails to name an executor in the will, then any family member who is a beneficiary can qualify as the personal representative.  If no family member comes forward then a non-family member can qualify.

What Roles Does the Personal Representative Play in the Wrongful Death Claim Process?

Under North Carolina law (specifically § 28A-13-3(a)(23)), the personal representative has the following responsibilities:

The personal representative has the responsibility of distributing the proceeds of any wrongful death settlement or jury verdict and must “take into consideration and to make a fair allocation to those claimants for funeral, burial, hospital and medical expenses which would have been payable from damages which might have been recovered had a wrongful death action gone to judgment in favor of the plaintiff.”


Types of Damages That May Be Pursued in a Wrongful Death Car Wreck Case

Beneficiaries of the car crash victim may be able pursue the following types of damages:

  • Reasonably expected loss of income from the victim
  • Reasonably expected loss of services, protection, care, and assistance the decedent provided to his or her beneficiaries (i.e. spouse, children, parents, etc.)
  • Medical expenses
  • Reasonable funeral expenses
  • Intangible costs such a sorrow, mental anguish, and loss of solace

Statute of Limitations (i.e. you don’t have forever to file a claim)

The statute of limitations is a finite period of time in which you can take legal action. In NC, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death lawsuit is only two years. That means if you do not file a claim within two years, you are barred from ever seeking restitution from the at-fault party.

For more information about the wrongful death claims process, download our free legal guide (in PDF format) here: