Wrongful Death

A “wrongful death” occurs when a person is killed by a wrongful act, neglect or default of another person, company or entity. In plain English, an action for wrongful death exists if the decedent (the deceased person) could have maintained an action for negligence or some other misconduct if he or she had survived. Some common causes of wrongful death include car accidents, trucking accidents, motorcycle accidents, boating accidents, medical malpractice, nursing home abuse, construction accidents, and industrial accidents.

An action for wrongful death must be brought by the executor, administrator, or collector of the decedent’s estate. Any recovery for wrongful death is distributed to the decedent’s beneficiaries under the North Carolina Intestate Succession Act. In other words, wrongful death damages are distributed to the decedent’s beneficiaries as if he or she had died without a will (“intestate”). A decedent may not by will or otherwise divert any portion of a wrongful death recovery from persons entitled by law to take under the Intestate Succession Act.

The damages recoverable in a wrongful death action include compensation for the decedent’s medical and funeral expenses, his pain and suffering experienced prior to death, his net lost income, and the beneficiaries’ loss of the decedent’s services, protection, care, assistance, society, companionship, comfort, guidance, kindly offices and advice. Punitive and nominal damages also are available under certain circumstances.

The North Carolina wrongful death statute was designed by the General Assembly to compensate, as fully as possible, for the loss of a loved one. At Hodges Coxe & Potter, LLP we can explain to you all the nuances of wrongful death law, and we have the experience and resources to achieve the best possible results for the survivors. If you have lost a loved one who was the victim of somebody else’s negligence or other wrongful act, we can help.

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Wrongful Death