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What Damages Can You Claim in a North Carolina Wrongful Death Case?

WECT TV – Channel 6, based in Wilmington, NC reported on June 8, 2013 that a preteen boy died in a Boone, North Carolina hotel room just several months after an elderly coupled died in the same room. The cause of the deaths is believed to be carbon monoxide poisoning. In both cases, it is likely that the Estates and families of the victims will bring Wrongful Death suits against the hotel and any other responsible parties.

Wrongful death cases vary from state to state. In North Carolina, the North Carolina Wrongful Death law (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 28A-18-2) details who can see and what can be recovered. Other laws apply for Virginia.

Who can sue?

The personal representative (if there is a will) or the administrator (if there isn’t a will) of the decedent’s Estate stands in the shoes of the victim and can bring the lawsuit against the responsible parties. The personal representative/administrator collects the money. The beneficiaries and the health and funeral bill creditors get the money. For more on how someone becomes the personal representative please see my FAQ post.

What Damages can be claimed?

  1. Medical Bills for all relevant medical care of the decedent
  2. Funeral Expenses of the decedent
  3. Compensation for pain and suffering of the decedent
  4. Net income of the decedent – this is the amount the decedent would have reasonably earned (salary, retirement benefits, etc.) minus typical expenses such as taxes. Only the amount that would have gone to the beneficiaries (family members) is awarded. This amount is reduced to a present day value.
  5. Those people allowed to claim damages (usually a spouse, children and/or parents) can also ask for compensation for:
    • Loss of services -This usually means the chores and care the decedent would have done for the benefit of the beneficiaries.
    • Loss of society – This is an award for the emotional care and companionship the decedent would have given to the beneficiaries.
  6. Punitive Damages, if the decedent could have claimed that had he/she lived. Punitive damages are meant to help insure the wrongful conduct doesn’t happen again. North Carolina has caps on punitive damages.
  7. Nominal damages – if the jury finds there were no compensable damages.


The people allowed to claim damages are set forth in the North Carolina Intestate Succession Act (and not the decedent’s will). (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 29).There are a lot of exceptions as to who is considered a beneficiary and how much the beneficiary can get. For example, children born out of wedlock are not beneficiaries

How Our Firm Can Help

If you know someone who was died through the wrongful death of another, in North Carolina, make sure that you really do contact an attorney. It is easy to do.

When it comes to wrongful death cases in North Carolina, make sure you visit www.JoeMillerInjuryLaw.com or call Wrongful Death Lawyer Joe Miller at 888-694-1671 to get all of the information that you need. We also suggest you visit our pages relating to wrongful death cases for a full list of helpful information.

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If you are looking at this site, you or a loved one has probably been hurt. If that's true, you've come to the right place. Helping people who have been hurt is what we do. In fact, it is all we do. Joe Miller Law is a law firm concentrating exclusively on representing people who are injured by the carelessness of others or those hurt on the job. We provide the highest quality legal services to people who have been seriously injured. We practice Personal Injury law and Workmens' Compensation law in both Virginia and North Carolina.