Recently a tragic Greenville car accident left two young children dead. The collision occurred between an SUV and a pickup truck at the intersection of Pleasantburg Drive and Wade Hampton Boulevard near the Arthur State Bank building. The collision sent the SUV into the bank building, resulting in the SUV catching fire. The mother of the boys and a passenger of the SUV were able to escape the flames, but the two young boys (ages 3 and 5) perished in the fire. The Greenville County Coroner concluded that the two boys died of smoke inhalation.
Wrongful Death and Survival Actions
No amount of monetary damages or compensation can bring these two young boys back. However, the boys’ family is likely experiencing a great deal of grief, sorrow and (perhaps) financial difficulty during this terrible time. In situations like this tragedy, individuals and families may be entitled to compensation through one or more lawsuits. A type of lawsuit known as a survival action can be brought on behalf of the boys’ estates to recover compensation for injuries and anguish they suffered before death, and their next-of-kin such as their parents can bring another type of lawsuit known as a wrongful death action to recover compensation for their grief and anguish regarding the loss of their loved ones. In addition, the mother and passenger can bring a lawsuit themselves to recover compensation for their own physical and mental injuries.
Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress in South Carolina Auto Accidents
What about the trauma of witnessing the death of one’s own children? Is there any compensation available for that?
South Carolina recognizes that, in some instances, a parent may bring an action for negligent infliction of emotional distress where there is evidence that:
- The defendant’s negligence caused the death or serious bodily injury of a child;
- The plaintiff was in close proximity to the accident;
- The plaintiff and the child are closely related (i.e., mother and child);
- The plaintiff perceived the accident as it was happening; and
- The plaintiff’s emotional distress manifests itself in physical symptoms that can be objectively diagnosed by a mental health professional.
Parents of children generally meet the third requirement (that they be “closely related” to the child or, in general, the victim) and the facts and circumstances of the accident will establish whether the plaintiff perceived the accident, was in close proximity to the accident, and whether the accident was caused by the defendant’s negligence.
Difficulties in Recovering Damages for Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress
The most problematic element of a claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress is the requirement that one’s emotional distress result in physical symptoms that can be evaluated and a diagnosis made by a psychologist or other mental health professional. While this element is designed to reduce the number of fraudulent or frivolous claims for negligent infliction of emotional distress, this element does not take into account that someone can be suffering intense emotional pain and distress and not manifest physical symptoms.
Contact the Office of David R. Price, Jr., P.A. for Caring Legal Counsel
South Carolina car wreck attorney David R. Price, Jr., is available to assist parents and families who have lost a loved one or had a loved one seriously injured in a car crash. He will ensure your legal rights are protected and work to hold the person responsible for causing the crash accountable for the damages and injuries he or she causes. Call David R. Price, Jr. today at (864) 271-2636 for assistance or contact him online.
David Price is a Personal Injury, Civil Litigation, Collections, and Criminal Defense Attorney who practices in Greenville, SC. He graduated from the University of Georgia School of Law, and has been practicing law for 12 years. David Price believes in helping those who have been injured. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.