Understanding the Basics of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in SC

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Accident with a drunk driver

The death of a family member is a tragic event. Furthermore, death can be all the more tragic when a family member dies unexpectedly. Sometimes unexpected deaths cannot be avoided and happen for reasons outside of anyone’s control. Unfortunately, however, many deaths occur far too often because another person acted negligently or recklessly. If this occurs then the family of the deceased may have a legal claim, known as a wrongful death claim, which allows the family to recover damages for their loss.

South Carolina Wrongful Death Statute

Under South Carolina law, a wrongful death claim arises “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….” The party causing the death is liable for damages. In this respect, a wrongful death claim allows the surviving family to bring a claim for damages for the loss of their loved one.

There are, however, limited individuals who are permitted to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. A wrongful death lawsuit must be filed by the personal representative, who is the executor or administrator of the deceased person’s estate. If the deceased has an estate plan, the executor or administrator may already be named. Otherwise, a court may appoint one. Once appointed, the executor or administrator can file a wrongful death lawsuit to recover damages.

Who Can File A Wrongful Death Claim in South Carolina?

A wrongful death action allows survivors of the deceased to obtain damages to help ease the loss of a loved one. Beneficiaries of a wrongful death claim are limited to:

  • Wife or husband and child or children of the deceased;
  • If there is no wife, husband, child or children, then the parent or parents; or
  • If there are no parents, then the deceased’s heirs.



What Kind Of Damages Are Available in a South Carolina Wrongful Death Claim?

A wrongful death claim is meant to provide financial compensation to the deceased’s survivors to help ease the financial and emotional loss. Examples of recoverable damages include:

  • Medical expenses;
  • Loss of emotional support, love and companionship;
  • Loss of financial support;
  • Funeral and burial expenses; and
  • Emotional pain and suffering.

Common Examples of Wrongful Death Claims

Any time a person dies as a result of another’s reckless or negligent conduct, the family member may have a wrongful death claim. Common examples of wrongful death claims include:

  • Vehicle accidents, including motorcycles, trucks, and cars;
  • Medical malpractice;
  • Construction or workplace accidents;
  • Defective products; and
  • Pedestrian accidents.

What is a Survival Claim in South Carolina?

In addition, the personal representative for a deceased person’s estate may also bring a lawsuit for the medical expenses and pain and suffering that a deceased person experiences between his accident and his death.  This is known as a survival claim.  The survival claim is only viable where there is evidence that the deceased person survived for a period of time after the accident before his death.  The proceeds of a survival claim go into the deceased person’s estate, as opposed to the proceeds for a wrongful death claim, which go directly to the surviving family members.  This means that the individuals entitled to damages for the survival claim are the heirs to the deceased person’s will or estate, which may be different than the persons identified by statute as being entitled to recover damages for the wrongful death claim.  This also means that creditors of the estate may be entitled to claim some or all of the proceeds of a survival claim.  A knowledgeable attorney will understand the distinctions between the wrongful death claim and the survival claim and may be able to help apportion proceeds between the claims to achieve the most equitable result for all.

Contact a Wrongful Death Attorney

If a family member has died as a result of another person’s negligent or reckless conduct, an experienced Greenville SC wrongful death Lawyer can help. The law firm of David R. Price, Jr., P.A. has experience helping victims in all types of wrongful death claims recover compensation for their injuries. We understand that this is a difficult time for you and your other family members. David R. Price, Jr. wants to be there for you to make sure that you receive fair compensation.

Contact David R. Price, Jr. for a free initial consultation and case evaluation. Or, you can visit the office located at 318 West Stone Avenue in Greenville, South Carolina. Don’t wait until it is too late.


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