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Fatal accidents and wrongful death actions

After running a red light and driving through a Durham, North Carolina intersection, the 18-year-old driver of a passenger car lost control and veered into the side of a van. The collision knocked the van on its side, while the car struck two more vehicles before coming to a stop.

The van's driver, a 52-year-old man, died of his injuries. His female passenger, along with the teen driver who ran the red light, were taken to the hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries. The intersection was closed for several hours while local police investigated the accident.

In a case like this one, the family of the deceased would be entitled to recover the costs of any emergency treatment rendered, ambulance transportation and hospital bills. In addition, the family may be able to recover compensation for funeral and burial costs as well as loss of society and companionship. If the driver who causes a fatal accident also dies in the collision, victims' families can file a civil action for damages against the estate of the deceased.

The financial stakes in a wrongful death suit are higher than in an ordinary injury case. For this reason, plaintiffs may wish to seek the guidance of a personal injury attorney. State law sets the conditions for a wrongful death lawsuit. Plaintiffs must have standing to bring the suit, meaning they must prove a relationship with the deceased or that the deceased provided financial support that they have now lost.

Source: ABC 11, "Man Charged in fatal Durham crash", Tamara Gibbs, December 23, 2014

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