Wrongful death is one of the worst outcomes from a motor vehicle accident. If your loved one has been killed in a wreck, after you finish your grieving, you may want justice. Neither the person who caused the accident nor that person’s insurance company can bring your loved one back. The only thing that they can compensate you with is money. Some folks refer to this as blood money. The inference is that it is distasteful to ask for money in place of a loved one. And if that was all there was to it, they would be right. There is no way to replace a human being, and to suggest that money is a substitute for the life that has been lost is both cruel and insane. If you have ever lost someone dear to you, you know that no amount of money can make up for that loss.
So, what should you do when someone runs a red light and kills your child? What should you do when someone is texting while driving and kills your husband? What should you do when a drunk driver kills your sister? Should you just forget about it? Should the driver who caused such devastation to your family simply be slapped on the wrist and told not to do it to someone else? Is that justice?
No, it is not.
Justice requires a balancing of the scales. Justice requires fairness. Justice requires compensation. And since we are not able to restore the life that has been lost, all we can do is require financial compensation. It is a poor substitute, but it is all we can give a grieving parent, spouse, or sibling. Money justice is all we have and the person who caused so much suffering to the family of the deceased is liable for every penny of it.
In North Carolina, our legislature has specifically set out the damages to be paid for wrongful death. They are:
(1) Expenses for care, treatment and hospitalization incident to the injury resulting in death;
(2) Compensation for pain and suffering of the decedent;
(3) The reasonable funeral expenses of the decedent;
(4) The present monetary value of the decedent to the persons entitled to receive the damages recovered, including but not limited to compensation for the loss of the reasonably expected;
a. Net income of the decedent,
b. Services, protection, care and assistance of the decedent, whether voluntary or obligatory, to the persons entitled to the damages recovered,
c. Society, companionship, comfort, guidance, kindly offices and advice of the decedent to the persons entitled to the damages recovered.
(5) Such punitive damages as the decedent could have recovered pursuant to Chapter 1D of the General Statutes had the decedent survived, and punitive damages for wrongfully causing the death of the decedent through malice or willful or wanton conduct, as defined in G.S. 1D-5;
(6) Nominal damages when the jury so finds.
Sadly, insurance adjusters have been known to tell families that their loved one’s lives were not worth much. If this happens to you, fight back. Use the tools provided for you in these videos. And, of course, if you have any questions, please call me, and I will be happy to discuss your case with for free.