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A Fatal Car Accident May Result in Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Posted by Josh Valentine | Apr 16, 2018 | 0 Comments

What is Wrongful Death?

When an accident claims the life of a victim in North Carolina, the family may have legal options available to recover damages. Wrongful death claims allow the victim's estate to recover monetary damages from the person responsible for the fatal crash.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

While many states provide the victim's family the right to file the claim, North Carolina requires wrongful death claims to be filed by a personal representative of the victim's estate. This personal representative can be (a) named directly in the victim's will or (b) appointed after the victim's death. Personal representatives are generally close family members of the victim (e.g., spouse, child, partner).

Elements of a Wrongful Death Claim

What must be proved in order to recover monetary damages from a wrongful death claim? In North Carolina, a victim's family/estate may be entitled to damages if they can prove:

  1. The defendant had a duty to prevent harm
  2. The defendant breached this duty in some way, and
  3. The victim's death is a result of this breach of duty.

In other words, the family must prove that the victim's death was the result of the defendant's wrongful actions or negligence.

Damages Available in Wrongful Death Actions

Family members may want to pursue a wrongful death claim because it can allow them to recover monetary damages for the loss of their loved one. In North Carolina, damages are generally limited to what the victim would have been able to recover himself, had he survived the accident.

Damages available in North Carolina wrongful death lawsuits include:

  1. Medical expenses related to the care, treatment, and hospitalization of the victim before death
  2. Pain and suffering
  3. Funeral and burial expenses
  4. Value of lost income, service, care and assistance, and companionship the victim would have provided, and
  5. Nominal damages the jury determines to be appropriate.

Families may also be able to recover punitive damages if the defendant acted with malice, willful, or wanton conduct.

All Victims Entitled to Compensation

Other passengers who may not have died as a result of their injuries are also entitled to compensation from the defendant.

Have you been injured in a North Carolina car accident? Contact the personal injury attorneys at Caulder & Valentine to learn about your rights as an accident victim. We can help you recover the money you deserve after an unexpected accident and injury. Call today to request a consultation.

About the Author

Josh Valentine

All through my life, I have personally witnessed family members and very close friends endure divorce, child custody battles, bankruptcy, civil lawsuits and even fraudulent criminal accusations. I both saw and experienced the stress such events can place on an individual, and I realized that everyone, at some point in their life, needs hope, comfort, and encouragement. In each one of those situations, the person that was best situated to provide that vital support was their lawyer.  So that's why I became an attorney.  I understand what you are going through—and I'm here to help you.  Our office is focused on meeting your needs and guiding you through what may be the most difficult time of your life. Before attending law school, I worked for a law firm focused on record clearing services, including expungements, pardons, and motions for appropriate relief.  The vast experience and understanding of North Carolina's expungement laws that I have acquired has given me an advantage in defending criminal charges, because not only do I fight for the best possible outcome in your case, but I am also continually conscious of the long term effects that a criminal charge or conviction can have on a person's life.  As such, I will do whatever I can to insure that my clients will not end up with a criminal record.  I was born in New London, Connecticut, but spent the first few years of my life in Dallas, Texas, before moving to Rutherfordton, North Carolina in 2001.  Upon graduating from high school, I attended Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, North Carolina, where I majored in Accounting.  Eager to finish school, I began law school at Charlotte School of Law the day of my graduation from GWU, and completed my law degree in two years (instead of the typical three). During law school, I studied hard and strived to acquire the most experience possible so that I would be practice ready upon graduation.  The opportunities I gained included prosecuting criminal defendants through an externship with the Burke County District Attorney's Office, defending criminal defendants through Charlotte School of Law's Criminal Justice Clinic, and interning with Farmer & Morris, PLLC. I am blessed with a beautiful wife, Gabrielle Valentine, who is an attorney at Farmer & Morris, PLLC, in Rutherfordton, North Carolina.  In my free time, I enjoy helping with the youth group in my church, playing basketball and softball in our local church leagues, serving in the prison ministry, and spending time with my family.  Education: Charlotte School of Law J.D., Magna Cum Laude Class Rank – 21 of 328 Associate Editor of Charlotte School of Law Law Review Certification and Concentration in Employment Law Phi Delta Phi International Legal Honor Society Order of the Crown Pro Bono Honors CALI Awards (Highest Grade)—Lawyering Process I and Contracts I Full Scholarship Gardner-Webb University B.S. in Accounting, Summa Cum Laude Distinguished Senior Student Award – Highest GPA Alpha Sigma Lambda National Honorary Society Bar Admissions: North Carolina State Bar


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