How to File a Wrongful Death Claim

If your close relative died because of someone else’s negligence or wrongful act, you might want to file a claim for compensation for your losses. Your family has suffered personal and financial losses from the untimely death. 

A South Carolina wrongful death attorney can explain how to file a wrongful death claim. You do not have to go through this process by yourself. The lawyer can do the heavy lifting for you so that you can be present for your family and deal with your own grief. 

Parties Who Can File a Wrongful Death Case

You might think that the next of kin or other close relatives would be the ones to file a wrongful death suit, but that is not the case in South Carolina. In our state, the executor or administrator of the decedent’s estate is the only one who can file a wrongful death claim.

The executor is usually the person named in the deceased person’s will. If your loved one died without leaving a will or a living trust, the court can appoint someone to administer the estate and file the wrongful death claim. 

What Counts as a Wrongful Death

South Carolina law defines wrongful death as a death resulting from someone else’s wrongful act, neglect, or default. If the deceased person could have filed a personal injury lawsuit if they had survived their wounds, then the estate qualifies to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

Fatalities from motor vehicle accidents are some of the more common situations that lead to the filing of wrongful death claims. Also, when a person dies from criminal activity like an assault, that scenario can be the basis for a wrongful death case. When a person dies from medical malpractice or some other type of negligence, rather than an intentional act like a crime, the estate has grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit.

Can You File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit for Homicide?

Yes. The criminal case will be totally separate from the wrongful death lawsuit. They will likely run on different timelines. 

Even if the person accused of the homicide does not get convicted, you could still win the wrongful death lawsuit. What you have to prove to win a civil wrongful death case is much less than what the prosecutor has to prove to get a conviction.

Damages You Could Recover in South Carolina in a Wrongful Death Case

After proving that the person’s demise was a wrongful death, the estate can pursue a claim or lawsuit for several different types of losses caused by the death. For example: 

  • Out-of-pocket expenses caused by the wrongful death, including the final medical expenses and the costs of the funeral and burial.
  • Loss of the decedent’s income and benefits. 
  • Loss of services the decedent provided for the family, like yardwork, household tasks, and raising the children.
  • Loss of companionship and guidance.
  • Emotional distress and grief. 

In rare cases, the estate can prove that the defendant’s actions were intentional, outrageous, or extremely reckless. In those situations, the court could award punitive damages, also called exemplary damages. 

Wrongful death claims can be tricky, which is why you would want to work with a South Carolina personal injury attorney. We offer a free consultation with no obligation. Reach out to our office today for help with your case.

What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

When a loved one dies due to another’s negligence or fault, it can be especially hard to reconcile. Fortunately, wrongful death actions offer a decedent’s survivors the opportunity for justice and compensation after their loss. 

If you are considering a wrongful death lawsuit in South Carolina, you need counsel from an experienced South Carolina wrongful death attorney. 

Wrongful death attorneys in South Carolina not only answer questions about wrongful death lawsuits but also evaluate your case, explain your legal options, and fight fiercely on your behalf.

What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Wrongful death occurs when a person dies due to the negligent or intentional misconduct of another person or entity.  Following a wrongful death, the victim’s survivors are legally entitled to seek compensation from the at-fault party through a civil action, known as a wrongful death claim. 

Though criminal charges may have been filed against the negligent or at-fault party, wrongful death claims are separate, civil actions filed on behalf of the victims’ survivors. Wrongful death civil actions carry a lower standard of proof than criminal cases.  

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in South Carolina?

South Carolina law provides that wrongful death claims may be pursued on behalf of a deceased person’s spouse, children, and parents. In the absence of a surviving spouse, child, or parent, other heirs of the estate may be entitled to file a claim. 

Per South Carolina law, the wrongful death claim must be filed by an administrator or executor of the decedent’s estate on behalf of the survivors pursuing the claim. If the wrongful death action is in the interest of a minor child, the court may appoint a guardian to bring the action on behalf of the minor child.

What Can Be Awarded in South Carolina Wrongful Death Lawsuits?

Wrongful death damages in South Carolina fall under two categories: economic damages and non-economic damages. 

Economic damages are quantifiable and include:

  • Medical expenses 
  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Lost wages and future income
  • Lost inheritance
  • Value of services

Non-economic damages are generally subjective and often left to the discretion of a jury:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Lost care and emotional support
  • Lost companionship
  • Lost social connections
  • Loss of consortium

South Carolina law, Section 15-51-40, directs that any recoverable damages be divided among the decedent’s survivors in keeping with what each party in interest would have received if the decedent had died without a will. 

Valid Wrongful Death Claims in South Carolina

Any death of a person resulting from another’s reckless, negligent, or willful harmful acts may qualify as wrongful death. Defendants in wrongful death actions must be shown to have had a duty of care to the person who died, and that the duty of care was breached, resulting in the direct and proximate death of the victim. 

Common incidents resulting in wrongful death actions:

  • Medical malpractice
  • Auto accidents
  • Faulty Products 
  • Poisoning

These are only some of the fatal accidents that can create a wrongful death cause of action under South Carolina law.

Consulting a South Carolina Wrongful Death Lawyer

If your loved one suffered a fatality in South Carolina due to another person or entity’s actions, you may have the right to file a wrongful death claim. However, South Carolina’s wrongful death claims are governed by statutes of limitations, making it essential that you reach out to a South Carolina wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible. 

Contact our office today for a comprehensive case review and step-by-step action plan by one of our experienced wrongful death attorneys. Together, we can get justice for your loved one and compensation for your loss.