Have you recently suffered the loss of a family member?
Was his or her death another person’s fault?
While nothing can replace your lost loved one, a wrongful death suit can help you to achieve the only kind of justice that is available in South Carolina’s civil courts – monetary damages.
While the criminal courts can hold the responsible person accountable if their conduct was also a crime, what happens in the criminal court process is often beyond the victim’s control. Whether their conduct was criminal or not, you can hold them accountable for their actions and make them pay for the damage that they caused through a SC wrongful death lawsuit.
Our SC wrongful death attorneys at Coastal Law provide answers below to the most common questions we receive from clients about wrongful death cases. We hope this information will help you decide whether you have a wrongful death claim and how to proceed.
Answers to Your Wrongful Death Questions
1. What is the definition of a wrongful death lawsuit?
A wrongful death lawsuit is a type of personal injury suit that the survivors can file when a family member’s death is caused by another person’s wrongful act, negligence, or failure to act. It is usually filed on behalf of the deceased person’s estate and on behalf of the survivors.
2. What types of events can cause a wrongful death?
Any event that involves negligent or reckless behavior constitutes wrongful death.
A SC wrongful death lawsuit can be based on just about any type of negligence or criminal conduct including:
- An auto accident;
- A slip and fall accident;
- A toxic spill;
- A drowning death at a Myrtle Beach swimming pool;
- A construction accident;
- Medical malpractice;
- A DUI related accident; or even
- A murder or other unlawful killing.
3. How do you prove wrongful death?
To prove wrongful death in South Carolina, you must prove that: 1) someone was killed; and 2) their death was because of another person or company’s negligence.
In most wrongful death cases, it will take an experienced SC personal injury attorney who knows how to gather the evidence showing liability and damages, and, depending on the circumstances, it may take multiple experts to establish the wrongful death.
4. Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit?
The executor or administrator of the deceased’s estate can file a wrongful death lawsuit. This person may be family, such as the spouse, parent or sibling of the deceased.
However, the executor or administrator could be a close friend or an attorney. When the executor is not family, he or she acts as the personal representative of the deceased and surviving family members.
As a fiduciary, the administrator or executor of an estate may have an obligation to file a wrongful death suit on behalf of the estate and survivors.
5. Who can receive damages in a wrongful death lawsuit?
Surviving family members are generally the recipients of damages in a wrongful death lawsuit.
S.C. Code of Laws 15-51-20 ranks the beneficiaries in this order:
- The surviving spouse or children of the deceased;
- The surviving parents of the deceased; and
- Other lawful heirs of the deceased.
If damages are awarded, the surviving spouse or children will receive all of the damages. If there isn’t a surviving spouse or surviving children, then the damages are awarded to the next people on the list, and so on.
6. What kinds of damages can be recovered for wrongful death?
South Carolina doesn’t put a monetary value on a deceased person’s life. Instead, the financial expenses and other losses the surviving family must deal with are the deciding factors in determining the amount of damages.
The most common types of damages in wrongful death cases are as follows:
- Exemplary or punitive damages, if the death resulted from deliberate or reckless behavior;
- Funeral and burial expenses;
- Lost wages and benefits;
- Medical bills and expenses leading up to the death;
- Property damage and financial loss;
- Loss of the deceased person’s care, companionship and protection;
- Loss of the deceased person’s knowledge, experience and judgment; and
- Pain, suffering and mental anguish suffered by the deceased prior to death and by surviving family members.
7. What is the time limit on filing a wrongful death lawsuit?
In most cases, the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death suit is three years from the date of the deceased person’s death.
However, if the death happened due to negligence in a state- or county-sponsored medical facility, then you only have two years from the date of death to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
8. Are there special damages for the loss of a child?
The loss of a child is different from a regular wrongful death lawsuit because the surviving family didn’t depend on the child to provide money or care. However, the law understands that parents suffer intangible damages, that is, emotional pain and suffering that can’t be measured.
The death of a child is also different because of the shock that jurors may experience when they learn the full extent of the tragedy that your family has suffered. In many cases, jurors will find a way to award a higher verdict when the deceased was a child.
Ready to File a Wrongful Death Suit? Talk to a Myrtle Beach Lawyer Today.
No amount of money can heal a broken heart or bring your lost loved one back to you. However, winning damages in a wrongful death lawsuit can provide you with some financial relief, so you don’t have to worry about money on top of everything else.
Our compassionate legal team at Coastal Law is here for you during this challenging time. We are available to answer your questions about the wrongful death of your family member. If you decide to file a wrongful death lawsuit, we’ll be with you every step of the way.
Call (843) 488-5000 or complete our online form to schedule a free consultation today.