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Can the courts award punitive damages in a wrongful death suit?

On Behalf of | Oct 5, 2023 | Personal Injury |

When someone dies, many people in their life will feel the impact of their passing. Immediate family members, close friends and business partners are among those likely to suffer negative consequences when someone dies prematurely. In North Carolina, those who have lost a loved one can sometimes file wrongful death lawsuits when a loved one’s death was caused by another’s negligence or intentional conduct.

Such lawsuits lead to compensatory damages for the impact of someone’s early death. For families who can prove that their case meets the necessary standard, punitive damages may also be awarded.

The courts can award punitive damages in North Carolina

Some states have rules that explicitly prohibit punitive damages. Unlike compensatory damages, which relate to the losses generated by someone’s passing, punitive damages are a form of punishment. They are a deterrent for the party that caused the death rather than a way to reimburse those affected by it.

North Carolina allows punitive damages in wrongful death cases involving fraud, malice or complete disregard for the safety of others. However, the state does limit how much people can receive in punitive damages. The punitive damages awarded in a North Carolina wrongful death lawsuit can add up to $250,000 or three times the compensatory damages, whichever is greater.

For families that can prove that their case meets the necessary standard, seeking punitive damages could be a way to increase the consequences for the party at fault for the tragedy. Learning more about North Carolina’s approach to wrongful death litigation may benefit those grieving the sudden, preventable loss of a family member.