Following the unexpected death of a loved one, many families are surprised by not only the grief they must endure, but the mounting bills that need to be paid. The difficulty of the process is often magnified by the burden of money trouble which can often happen to families left to contend with enormous hospital bills, funeral expenses and lost income. Though money can never do enough to repair what was taken away, it can help ease financial pain and allow the healing process to begin.
In North Carolina wrongful death cases there are two kinds of damages awarded to loved ones: economic and non-economic. Economic harms are those financial losses that are tangible and can include actual expenses like funeral expenses and even the loss of future earnings. Non-economic damages are generally more abstract. Examples of non-economic loss include things like pain and suffering and emotional distress.
Examples of economic damages
Economic damages typically consist of two types of loss: actual expenses and lost future income. The most straightforward category of damage is certainly actual expenses. These damages can be clearly shown through hospital bills, doctor’s invoices, funeral expenses, etc. These expenses are rarely contested as they can be clearly demonstrated.
Lost future income is a different story and is much less clear-cut. To determine how lost income is compensated, a somewhat complicated formula must be used that multiplies a person’s earnings with their estimated lifespan. This often requires the help of expert witnesses such as actuaries or economists who can accurately estimate earning potential across a person’s career. The final number is then adjusted for the present value of money and the result of that adjustment is the amount the responsible party ought to pay.
This number is understandably subject to some debate given its speculative nature, which is why it is so important to have an experienced North Carolina wrongful death attorney on your side who can fight to ensure your family receives the money it deserves.
Here's a YouTube video where one of our experienced attorneys discusses the wrongful death claims process: