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What types of damages can be sought in a wrongful death lawsuit?

Few things are more traumatic than the sudden death of a loved one. If a person's loved one died due to natural causes, such as old age, the person's grief may be great, but the loss may at least be understandable. However, when a person in North Carolina loses a loved one due to another party's actions, such as in a fatal car accident, the person may have a hard time coming to grips with what was a senseless loss.

After all, when it comes to fatal car accidents, negligent driving is often to blame. When a negligent act leads to the death of a person, and that person's survivors suffered some sort of financial harm due to the death, the person's survivors may be able to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit, brought by a personal representative of the person's estate. Under North Carolina Statutes ยง28A-18-2(b), there are a number of types of damages the surviving family members could pursue in a wrongful death lawsuit.

First, compensation for medical expenses related to the injury that lead to the death of the victim can be sought. Also, if the victim could have pursued punitive damages should he or she have survived, then his or her survivors could pursue such damages. In addition, one could seek compensation for the victim's pain and suffering. Reasonable compensation can also be sought for funeral expenses.

Also, one could seek compensation for the present monetary value the decedent to the individual seeking damages. This includes compensation for the reasonably expected monetary loss relating to:

  • The assistance, care, protection and services the victim provided to the person seeking damages;
  • The victim's net income; and
  • The advice, guidance, comfort, companionship and society the victim provided to the person seeking damages.

It can be hard to place a monetary value on the death of a loved one. After all, no amount of money can bring back a loved one lost. When a person's death is due to the negligent act of another, such as in a fatal car accident, one may want to pursue legal action. A wrongful death lawsuit brought by a personal representative of the victim's survivors can do more than just provide financial compensation. It can also provide closure, and a sense that justice was done.

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John McCabe wrote "The Investigation and Analysis of Personal Injury Cases" in the best-selling book Personal Injury Practice in North Carolina. This is the book that other lawyers follow in handling personal injury cases.

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