What Classifies as a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in South Carolina?
Wrongful death cases are complex, and losing someone you love is incredibly painful, so understanding what compensation you are eligible for makes the process easier to bear.
In South Carolina, there are two different kinds of claims you can file when someone dies from another person’s negligence or intentional act. A survival action which grants a victim’s family compensation due to the injuries they endured before their death, and a wrongful death claim which affords the aggrieved parties financial compensation for the loss of a loved one.
Let’s take a closer look at what qualifies as a wrongful death in the state of South Carolina.
What Does Wrongful Death Mean?
In South Carolina, wrongful death is defined as the loss of life due to another person’s negligence or wrongful actions. In order to be classified as such, the act must be something that the deceased would have been able to file a personal injury suit over were they still alive. Because the victim in a wrongful death suit is deceased, it is typically filed by a loved one or friend on behalf of the departed. Accidents that lead to wrongful death suits can include acts such as:
- Car Accidents
- Trucking or Motorcycle Accidents
- Medical Malpractice
- Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect
- Dog Bite Incidents
- And More
Who is Eligible to File a Wrongful Death Suit?
In most states, a wrongful death claim can be filed by the deceased’s family members or by the direct beneficiaries of the departed. However, in South Carolina, wrongful death suits must be filed by the executor of the deceased’s estate, a role that is typically specified in a will. If the departed did not have a will before they passed, then the role of executor is often assigned by the courts.
Even though the executor is responsible for initially filing a wrongful death claim, the actual settlement will be given to the loved one’s remaining family members. Family members who are entitled to receive a portion of the settlement include:
- Heirs (if the deceased has no living children, parents, or spouses)
How are Wrongful Death Cases Proven?
For the plaintiff to prove that their loved one died wrongfully, four different factors must be shown as evidence, including:
The Breach of Duty
This means that the defendant violated their basic duty. For instance, if the deceased died due to a dog mauling incident, it must be proven that the defendant failed to serve their duty to protect the victim from their dogs.
The Defendant’s Duty
A defendant owes the victim a fundamental duty. For example, a victim of nursing home abuse would have been owed the promise of safety by the nursing home.
The deceased must have sustained an injury leading to their death.
The injury must have been caused by the defendant’s direct actions, which led to the victim’s death.
There must be enough evidence to prove that the defendant was directly responsible for the injury that led to the victim’s death. This can include providing physical evidence such as police reports, medical records, eyewitness accounts, and financial records proving the amount of money the family has lost due to their loved one’s injuries and death. A lawyer experienced in handling wrongful death cases will help collect evidence, prepare paperwork, and fight for the compensation that the loved one’s family deserves.
What Damages Are Eligible for Compensation in Wrongful Death Suits?
The damages available for financial reimbursement include anything the deceased person could have been awarded had they survived their accident. This includes things such as lost income, medical bills, emotional pain and suffering, funeral expenses, and punitive damages, which are fines that serve as punishment for the defendant’s reckless behavior.
What is the Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Cases in South Carolina?
The statute of limitations is a set time period within which a wrongful death claim must be filed. While individual states may vary, in South Carolina, the statute of limitations is three years from the date the person died. After this period has passed, most courts will reject a person attempting to file a claim outside of the statute of limitations.
What is the Difference Between a Survival Action and Wrongful Death Claim?
A survival action is a type of claim that can be made on top of a wrongful death claim. It includes damages that occurred in the time between the departed’s initial injury and their death, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. This means that the plaintiff may not file for damages that happened after the person died, except for funeral expenses. Survival actions must be brought up by the executor of the deceased person’s estate and are usually filed alongside wrongful death claims.
If your loved one died as a result of another person’s negligence, you are entitled to file a wrongful death claim and seek the justice you deserve. In order to prove your case, it’s essential to work with an attorney to collect all necessary evidence of wrongdoing to prove your case. A skilled wrongful death lawyer will ensure you receive the maximum compensation and that the person responsible will be brought to justice for their harmful actions.