How does North Carolina law define ‘wrongful death’? | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

Section 28A-18-2 of the North Carolina General Statutes states,


When the death of a person is caused by a wrongful act, neglect or default of another, such as would, if the injured person had lived, have entitled the injured person to an action for damages therefor, the person or corporation that would have been so liable, and the personal representatives or collectors of the person or corporation that would have been so liable, shall be liable to an action for damages, to be brought by the personal representative or collector of the decedent; and this notwithstanding the death, and although the wrongful act, neglect or default, causing the death, amounts in law to a felony.


To put that in plain language, a wrongful death occurs when a person or organization acts negligently, recklessly or criminally and kills someone else. Such a wrongful death gives the family of the deceased individual legal rights to seek monetary compensation and damages from the responsible party.

In light of the statutory language, a wrongful death in North Carolina can result from a traffic accident, medical malpractice, defective products, dangerous drugs, unsafe building practices, failures to protect customers and visitors, and assaults.