Wrongful Death Cases
When your loved one dies unexpectedly, it can be devastating. If your loved one died because of the negligent or wrongful actions of someone else, the pain that you feel may be even worse. South Carolina has codified laws allowing the family members of people who are wrongfully killed to recover compensation for their losses. Because the claims process is complex, it is important for you to retain an experienced injury attorney for help. In Myrtle Beach, there are two potential claims that might be available to you after your loved one’s death, including a survival action and a wrongful death claim. Here is what you need to know about these two different types of claims.
Under S.C. Code Ann. § 15-51-10, wrongful death claims may be filed when a person’s death is caused by the negligent acts, wrongful acts, or omissions of another person or entity. These types of claims are similar to personal injury lawsuits. Grounds for a claim will exist when the deceased person would have had the grounds to file a lawsuit for personal injury if he or she had not died.
Death claims allow people to recover compensation for the losses that they have suffered because of the reckless, intentional, or negligent conduct of others who are responsible for the deaths of their loved ones. These types of lawsuits allow people to hold the wrongful parties accountable for the harm that they have caused.
The attorneys at our firm help families whose loved ones have been wrongfully killed to pursue claims against those who are responsible. These types of claims frequently arise after people have been killed in the following types of events:
- Fatal car, truck, motorcycle, pedestrian, and bicycle accidents
- Slip-and-fall fatalities
- Deaths caused by defective products
- Death caused by police brutality or abuse in jail
- Other events leading to deaths
In South Carolina, the administrator or executor of the deceased person’s estate is the person who brings the claim for the benefit of the surviving family members. The lawsuit will seek damages for the estate’s economic losses and the non-economic losses that the survivors have suffered. The potential damages can include the following:
- Funeral expenses
- Burial expenses
- Medical costs for the care that the deceased person received until he or she succumbed to his or her injuries
- Lost income
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of companionship, comfort, support, or guidance
- Punitive damages if the death resulted from particularly outrageous conduct
If damages are awarded by a jury or are recovered through a settlement, the executor or administrator will divide the recovery amount between the eligible surviving family members. Under the law, these include the following parties:
- The surviving spouse and children
- The parents if the deceased person was unmarried and did not have children
- The decedent’s heirs if other eligible family members do not survive
Survival actions in South Carolina
A survival action is a claim that can be brought by the estate of a decedent in order to recover damages for the suffering that the decedent experienced before he or she died as well as for the expenses that were incurred by the estate because of the death. In this type of action, the estate will seek to recover compensation for the expenses that the estate will have to pay together with the non-economic losses the decedent would have been able to recover if he or she had survived. These damages might include the following types of compensation:
- Medical costs
- The pain and suffering of the decedent
- The mental anguish of the decedent
- Punitive damages if the conduct was particularly outrageous
Which type of claim should be filed?
In most cases, both types of claims will be filed at the same time. After the estate recovers damages through the claims that it files, the executor or administrator will distribute the remaining compensation to the people who are named in the will or to who would receive it under the laws of intestate succession. Before the money will be distributed, the executor or administrator of the estate will first have to pay the debts of the estate and any attorney and legal costs.
If the decedent died without any surviving family members, the executor or administrator might try to recover compensation for the debt that is left from the accident, medical care, and subsequent death of the deceased person. Both types of claims allow the estate to try to recover compensation to benefit the heirs and the estate. Survival claims will be filed to seek damages for the losses that the deceased people suffered before they died. However, if funeral expenses and burial expenses are not included in the death claim, they may be sought in the survival claim.
Do you need an attorney to file wrongful death and survival claims?
Death and survival claims are filed by the administrator or executor of the estate and not directly by the surviving family members unless a family member is serving as the administrator or executor. These types of claims can be complex, and getting the help of an experienced attorney might help you to prevail and to recover more compensation.
While you are not required to hire a lawyer to file death or survival claims, an experienced attorney can help you to navigate through the complicated procedures and laws that are involved. To prevail in these types of claims, you will need to support them with evidence. You will also need to prove the damages that should be paid to the estate.
Our attorneys help with these types of claims in multiple ways. When we accept representation following the death by a wrongful act of a person, we will do all of the following:
- Meet with the family members to learn about what happened and to explain how we can help
- Investigate the case thoroughly
- Collect as much evidence that supports the claims as possible
- Determine all of the potentially liable parties that should be named in the lawsuit
- Identify all of the potential sources of compensation
- Value the claim
- Build a strong case based on the circumstances of what occurred
- Negotiate with the insurers
- File formal lawsuits and litigate for our clients if an appropriate settlement is not reached
Our lawyers work on a contingent fee basis. This means that you will not have to pay for our legal fees unless and until we recover compensation for you through a settlement or a trial.
Contact The Lovely Law Firm today
If you have lost a loved one in an accident or because of an intentional or reckless act, it is important for you to consult with an injury lawyer at the Lovely Law Firm in Myrtle Beach. We can talk to you about the potential survival and death claims that might be filed. It is important for you to act quickly. In the state, these types of claims generally must be filed within three years of the death of your loved one. However, it is best for you to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible after your loved one’s death. These types of claims often require substantial investigation and evidence. Getting help quickly may help you to preserve evidence that might otherwise be lost.
Our lawyers have helped many people who have suffered the loss of companionship of their loved ones, other noneconomic losses, and substantial pecuniary losses because of the deaths of their loved ones. We strongly believe in the importance of holding the parties who are responsible for the wrongful deaths of others accountable for their actions. Contact us today to schedule a consultation so that you can learn more about your rights.
Wrongful Death Attorney in Myrtle Beach, SC
Grieving the loss of a loved one is very difficult and you have our deepest sympathies. Your grief is made even more difficult when your loved one lost their life tragically in an automobile accident or due to someone else’s recklessness or negligence. The South Carolina wrongful death statutes were created to provide a cause of action to recover for negligence resulting in wrongful death.
Wrongful death actions are often similar to a regular negligence action in that the plaintiff has to prove duty, breach, causation, and damages. However, the wrongful death case quickly becomes complex in that certain specific laws are triggered due to the client being deceased. These matters involve researching the eligible heirs to an estate as well as working with the probate court and personal representative of the estate of the deceased. Our wrongful death attorneys handle all of the issues presented in this type of action.
The Lovely Law firm has assisted many families in fighting for the memory of their loved one. We handle all wrongful death claims in Myrtle Beach as well as the rest of the state. While it will not bring your loved one back, we can help ensure that the loved ones left behind are provided for financially.
Let us help you recover full and fair compensation for your loss. Call us at 843-939-4111.