Wrongful death lawsuits are among the most emotionally challenging cases that SC lawyers handle. 

The purpose of a lawsuit is to make the injured party whole again – a task that is simply impossible when someone’s negligent, reckless, or intentional conduct permanently takes a loved one away from us. 

We can’t bring them back, but we can help to hold the responsible party accountable, possibly prevent future deaths, and recover the maximum compensation possible under SC law and the facts of your case for your family’s financial losses and suffering. 

What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Wrongful death is when a person or company’s negligence, gross negligence, or intentional acts cause someone’s death. 

A wrongful death lawsuit is when the executor or administrator of the deceased person’s estate sues the person or business who caused the death, recovering damages that may include:

  • Medical expenses for emergency care or other healthcare costs that were incurred before the death, 
  • Pain and suffering, 
  • Lost wages, 
  • Loss of future wages for dependents, 
  • Loss of consortium/ loss of companionship,
  • Funeral and burial expenses, and
  • Punitive damages when appropriate. 

Who Pays the Settlement or Verdict in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit? 

Depending on the facts of your case, there may be one defendant or there may be multiple defendants. Your wrongful death attorney at Coastal Law will identify all responsible parties which could include:

  • Individuals whose negligence caused the death, 
  • Corporations whose negligence caused the death, 
  • The negligent person’s employer, or
  • Third parties who contributed to the accident.

Your attorney will also investigate all possible sources of recovery which could include one or more insurance policies or a defendant’s personal or corporate assets. 

Types of Wrongful Death Lawsuits in SC

A wrongful death lawsuit can be filed in any case where someone’s death was caused by another person or company’s negligence, gross negligence, or intentional acts. 

Wrongful death lawsuits are usually based on an individual or company’s negligence – some examples include:

What’s the Difference Between a Wrongful Death Lawsuit and a Survival Action? 

When we talk about a wrongful death lawsuit, we usually mean 1) a wrongful death action and 2) a survival action. 

What’s the difference? 

Wrongful Death Actions

SC Code Section 15-51-10 authorizes a wrongful death lawsuit to compensate the decedent’s (deceased person’s) beneficiaries:

Whenever the death of a person shall be caused by the wrongful act, neglect or default of another and the act, neglect or default is such as would, if death had not ensued, have entitled the party injured to maintain an action and recover damages in respect thereof, the person who would have been liable, if death had not ensued, shall be liable to an action for damages, notwithstanding the death of the person injured, although the death shall have been caused under such circumstances as make the killing in law a felony. In the event of the death of the wrongdoer, such cause of action shall survive against his personal representative.

The damages that are recovered then go to the decedent’s 1) spouse and children, 2) parents, if there are no spouse and children, or 3) heirs, if there are no spouse, children, or parents. 

Survival Actions

SC Code Section 15-5-90 authorizes a wrongful death lawsuit to compensate the decedent, and any damages that are recovered go to the estate of the decedent:

Causes of action for and in respect to any and all injuries and trespasses to and upon real estate and any and all injuries to the person or to personal property shall survive both to and against the personal or real representative, as the case may be, of a deceased person and the legal representative of an insolvent person or a defunct or insolvent corporation, any law or rule to the contrary notwithstanding.

In Singletary v. Shuler, decided in June of this year, the SC Court of Appeals defined a wrongful death lawsuit as “when a person’s wrongful or negligent act causes the death of a decedent and the wrongful or negligent act, had it not caused death, would have entitled the injured party to maintain an action to recover damages.”

The Court of Appeals also affirmed that the executor of an estate can recover damages for the decedent’s “conscious pain and suffering” in a survival action when the decedent was both conscious and suffering before their death.

In many cases, your attorney will file both a wrongful death claim and a survival claim as part of your wrongful death lawsuit. 

Wrongful Death Lawyers in Myrtle Beach, SC

Our Myrtle Beach wrongful death attorneys at Coastal Law help our clients to recover full and fair compensation when someone’s negligence causes the death of a loved one. We will help you to determine who was at fault and whether punitive damages should be a part of any settlement or verdict. 

Call your SC wrongful death lawyer at Coastal Law today at (843) 488-5000 or fill out our online form to set up a free consultation about your case.   

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