A wrongful death is a type of personal injury case in that the family members or estate of the deceased file a lawsuit and pursue compensation related to the accident and death of their loved one on their behalf. Here, the wrongful death attorneys of The Yates Law Firm review the South Carolina Wrongful Death Act and what type of compensation you may seek in your wrongful death lawsuit.
When Can You File a Wrongful Death Suit?
Under the South Carolina Wrongful Death Act, the surviving family members or estate of the deceased may file a wrongful death lawsuit when the death of their loved one was caused by the “wrongful act, neglect, or default of another.” Further, if the person who caused the wrongful death of another dies, the lawsuit survives their death and may be brought against the personal representative of the wrongdoer’s estate.
The time period for filing a wrongful death lawsuit, as dictated by the statute of limitations for such actions, is three years from the date of death. Although this may seem like a significant amount of time, you should contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after your loved one’s death. That way, they can initiate their investigation of the accident while evidence is still readily available. Witnesses may also be able to recall pertinent details that may help your case if your attorney is able to speak to them shortly after the accident.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit?
The Wrongful Death Act dictates who can file the lawsuit. The Act provides that the lawsuit shall be brought by the estate’s executor for the benefit of the deceased’s wife or husband and child or children. It notes that a child born out of wedlock has the same rights under the Act as any other child of the deceased. If the decedent was unmarried and without children at the time of their death, the parents may file a wrongful death lawsuit. If the decedent’s parents are not alive, the executor or administrator of the decedent’s estate may file a wrongful death suit.
What Do You Have to Prove in a Wrongful Death Suit?
Much like a personal injury lawsuit, you have to prove that someone else failed to exercise reasonable care under the circumstances that resulted in the death of your loved one. An experienced personal injury lawyer will prepare your case to offer evidence demonstrating the following:
- The negligent or reckless actions of the party at fault – their breach of the duty of reasonable care – occurred.
- The negligent or reckless actions were the cause of death of your family member.
- The financial compensation your family member would have received in a personal injury lawsuit if they had not died in the accident.
In other words, if your loved one had lived, they would have been entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit to seek compensation for their injuries and financial losses in an accident that was not their fault. Because they died due to someone else’s negligence, you may bring a wrongful death lawsuit.
What Types of Compensation Can You Receive?
Much like in a personal injury case, the types of compensation you can demand include:
- Medical expenses related to any treatment received by the decedent before they died
- Lost wages and benefits the decedent would have earned, including anticipated future income
- Funeral expenses
- Loss of services
- Loss of companionship and love
- Loss of consortium of a spouse
- Mental distress
- Pain and suffering
In South Carolina, the jury is not limited to the amount of compensation they may award in a wrongful death case – the damages are not capped at a certain level. The Wrongful Death Act provides that the money recovered is divided as if the decedent died without a will.
Interestingly, if the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the decedent’s parent or parents failed to reasonably support them and provide for their needs as a child, the parent or parents’ award may be denied or limited.
Call the Wrongful Death Attorneys at The Yates Law Firm Today
At The Yates Law Firm, you will receive quality legal representation delivered in a compassionate way during what might be a very difficult time in your life. We have extensive experience handling all types of personal injury cases, including those that involve the wrongful death of a loved one. Our legal team understands that you may feel intimidated by the legal process, especially when you are grieving. Let the personal injury lawyers at The Yates Law Firm help you and your family as you pick up the pieces after an unexpected loss. Call us today for a free consultation.