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The sudden loss of a loved one in an accident is always a heartbreaking event. In the blink of an eye, your entire world can be turned upside down. If you lost a loved one in an accident caused by the carelessness of another party, you have legal rights and can seek some semblance of justice through the civil court system.

North Carolina Statutes section 28A-18-2, state that a wrongful death claim may be pursued when the death of a loved one is caused “by a wrongful act, neglect or fault of another.” To put it another way, if the injured person had lived, he or she would have had the right to sue for his or her own personal injuries. Therefore, the North Carolina Wrongful Death Act allows an executor or personal representative to step into the proverbial shoes of the victim and pursue damages on their behalf.


Wrongful death damages recoverable under the Wrongful Death Act include:

  1. Expenses for treatment, care and hospitalization that accrued as a result of the injury resulting in death;
  2. Compensation for pain and suffering;
  3. Funeral expenses;
  4. The “present monetary value” provided by the decedent to their loved ones. Essentially, this means the income the decedent provided to the household, including non-economic value such as companionship.

Punitive damages may also be pursued, depending on the circumstances that led to the deadly accident. For example, if the at-fault party was highly intoxicated resulting in a deadly automobile collision, there may be a sufficient basis to pursue punitive damages.

Take Action Sooner Rather Than Later 

A North Carolina wrongful death claim must be filed within two years of the date of the incident that caused your loved one’s passing. This is important to keep in mind since, for personal injury claims in North Carolina, the victim typically has three years to file suit. The period is shorter for a wrongful death suit. If the claim is not filed within this time period, the attorney for the at-fault party can attempt to have your claim barred as not being filed within the statute of limitations.

To learn more about the wrongful death claims process, take a moment to download our law firm’s free guide on how to properly file, and pursue damages, under the North Carolina wrongful death act. If you have questions or want to speak directly to an experienced wrongful death attorney, contact our firm at 252-203-0066.

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