SOUTH CAROLINA WRONGFUL DEATH FAQ
Losing a loved one is a devastating experience. Families need time to grieve, but, in many cases, a wrongful death can leave families in a precarious financial situation. If you have recently lost a loved one because of the wrongful conduct of another party then you may be thinking about filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
The Greenville, South Carolina law firm of David R. Price, Jr., P.A., will work hard for you and your family to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve after the loss of your loved one. Below are a number of important wrongful death claim questions and answers that will provide you with valuable information.
WHAT IS A WRONGFUL DEATH?
Wrongful death claims in South Carolina are allowed where a person’s death was caused by the neglect, misconduct or wrongful act of another person or entity. Wrongful death lawsuits are sometimes referred to as accidental death lawsuits and are designed, by law, to compensate a person’s family for the loss of their loved one, including for the financial and emotional support that would have been provided by the person who died. A wrongful death may have occurred due to the negligence, carelessness, recklessness, or willfulness of someone else, whether from a traffic accident, medical malpractice, or other causes.
TYPES OF WRONGFUL DEATH CASES IN SOUTH CAROLINA
Wrongful death cases are among the most serious types of personal injury cases that the David R. Price, Jr. law firm handles. Some different types of wrongful death cases are:
- Drownings – These types of cases generally involve negligence or error.
- Medical Malpractice
- Fire Liability
HOW TO DETERMINE IF YOU HAVE A WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIM
Whether or not you and your family have a claim for wrongful death depends on the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death. The knowledgeable attorneys at the David R. Price, Jr., P.A. will listen to the facts of your case and work with you to determine if you have a claim for wrongful death in South Carolina. Consultations are free and it could benefit you and your family to schedule an appointment as soon as possible after the untimely death of your loved one.
WHO CAN FILE A WRONGFUL DEATH LAWSUIT IN SOUTH CAROLINA
In South Carolina, the law is that only the deceased person’s Personal Representative or executor of the estate can file a claim for wrongful death in order to pursue compensation on behalf of you and your family. If the executor/administrator is not willing to serve for this function, or if your loved one didn’t have a will, then you would have to petition the Probate Court to appoint an executor/administrator who will be able to file a claim for wrongful death for you and your family.
THE TWO CATEGORIES OF WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIMS: WRONGFUL DEATH ACTION AND SURVIVAL ACTION
A wrongful death lawsuit can consist of two different claims: a survival action and a wrongful death action.
The survival action allows recovery for the damages the deceased person incurs until death. These damages may include conscious pain and suffering, medical bills up until death, and any lost wages from injury up until death. Since he damages for a survival action were incurred by the deceased person, those damages are paid to the estate. To pursue a survival action, there must be some evidence that the deceased person survived the event that caused their death in order to experience pain and suffering. Therefore, not every wrongful death case has sufficient grounds to bring a survival action.
The wrongful death action allows recovery for the damages a deceased person’s loved ones experience because of their death. The damages may include funeral expenses, economic damages relating to the deceased person’s inability to provide for their dependents financially, and for the pain of losing their loved one. The persons entitled to recover under a wrongful death claim are specifically set out by statute in South Carolina. Those damages belong to a deceased person’s surviving spouse and children, or if there is no spouse or children, those damages may belong to other next of kin such as parents and siblings. For example, children may recover for the wrongful death of their parents, and parents may recover for the wrongful death of a child, if that child was not married or had their own children.
WHAT CATEGORIES OF DAMAGES ARE AVAILABLE IN A SOUTH CAROLINA WRONGFUL DEATH CASE
Damages that are available in South Carolina for wrongful death actions include:
- Funeral and burial expenses;
- Loss of care, companionship, love and guidance;
- Loss of financial support and benefits;
- Loss of household services;
- Medical Bills related to the treatment of the injuries that caused the wrongful death;
- Property damage such as for a wrecked car, etc.;
- Punitive Damages may be available depending on whether the defendant’s conduct was intentional or reckless.
WHAT CATEGORIES OF DAMAGES ARE AVAILABLE IN A SOUTH CAROLINA SURVIVAL CASE
Damages that are available in South Carolina for survival actions include:
- Funeral and burial expenses;
- Medical expenses incurred by the deceased before death;
- Pain and suffering experienced by the deceased before death;
- Property damage to property owned by the deceased; and
- Punitive damages may be available depending on whether the defendant’s conduct was intentional or reckless.
LOSS OF DECEASED PERSON’S INCOME AND HOUSEHOLD SERVICES
A deceased person’s dependents, generally meaning that person’s wife or children may be able to recover compensation for the deceased person’s loss of earning capacity as a direct result of a wrongful death. They may also be able to recover for loss of household services.
Generally, these damages will have to be calculated by an expert economist, who will calculate a person’s income according to their income before death, education level, and life expectancy, and then deduct probable income taxes and necessary living expenses and adjust for inflation.
Once those calculations are completed, that value will be reduced to its current value. This will provide a figure for the loss of your loved one’s earning capacity due to their wrongful death. The South Carolina lawyers at David R. Price, Jr., P.A. have experience working with experts in economics to arrive at the current value of a deceased person’s earning capacity as well as the value of household services provided by the loved one.
OTHER TYPES OF RELATED CASES: NEGLIGENT INFLICTION OF EMOTIONAL DISTRESS
If you were a bystander who witnessed the event causing a loved one’s death or severe injury, you may have your own claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress. In Kinard v. Augusta Sash & Door Co, 286 S.C.579, the South Carolina Supreme Court considered the limits of claims for negligent infliction of emotional distress by a bystander. The South Carolina Supreme Court held that a bystander may be able to recover for their emotional injuries under certain conditions:
- The negligence of the defendant must cause death or serious physical injury to another;
- The bystander must be in close proximity to the accident;
- The bystander and the victim must be closely related
- The bystander must contemporaneously perceive the accident; and
- The emotional distress must both manifest itself by physical symptoms capable of objective diagnosis and be established by expert testimony.
OTHER TYPES OF RELATED CASES: LOSS OF CONSORTIUM
In South Carolina, the surviving spouse a person who has died or been seriously injured due to someone else’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional act, can recover damages for the loss of spousal services. This type of claim is called a loss of consortium claim and is owned by the surviving spouse and not the estate.
South Carolina Code § 15-75-20 provides that “Any person may maintain an action for damages arising from an intentional or tortious violation of the right to the companionship, aid, society and services of his or her spouse.”
Loss of consortium arises out of the special relationship between a husband and a wife. Loss of consortium includes several categories of damages:
- Support and services provided by the other spouse;
- Sexual relations;
- Solace; and
IS THERE A TIMELIMIT TO FILE A WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIM IN SOUTH CAROLINA?
In South Carolina, unless special circumstances exist, a person must file their claim for wrongful death within three (3) years of the date of the event death, or within two (2) years if the death was caused by a governmental entity. There are circumstances, however, that may affect the point in which the South Carolina statute of limitations begins to elapse.
Discovery Date Rule: If at the time of your loved one’s death it wasn’t possible to know that negligence caused the death, but new evidence or knowledge is found disclosing the negligence, then the statute of limitations begins to run as of the date you should have known of the conduct giving rise to the action.
Tolling: As set by either statute or court decision, certain circumstances pause, or “toll” the statute of limitations under those circumstances no longer apply. For example, a child who is a minor may bring an action for negligence when the minor is within 3 years of turning 18, regardless of when the negligence took place.
HOW CAN I FIND THE RIGHT SOUTH CAROLINA WRONGFUL DEATH ATTORNEY FOR ME AND MY FAMILY?
There are several things you can do to find the best fit for you and your family for your South Carolina claim for wrongful death.
- Google South Carolina attorneys and do some research on the results.
- Read attorney reviews left by their previous clients
- Read the biographies of the attorneys
- Look at ratings from independent rating sources
- Interview several different attorneys
At the law firm of David R. Price, Jr. we work hard to present the strongest possible case for your South Carolina wrongful death claim.
We will conduct a very detailed investigation into the circumstances of your loved one’s death and gather evidence from many different sources.
We work with experts that will assist you in receiving the proper amount of compensation for all of the injuries and losses you and your family have suffered, past and future, that were a direct result of someone else’s legally proven negligence.
We are also very familiar with the different types of claims related to a wrongful death, including a wrongful death action, survival action, and actions for negligent infliction of emotional distress and loss of consortium. This familiarity can be very important, since the way that cases are brought according to the various categories and types of claims may affect the amount you may be able to recover under applicable insurance limits and statutory limitations on damages such as the Tort Claims Act.
At David R. Price, Jr., P.A., we want you to be able to focus on your life and helping your family recover from your loved one’s death. We realize that no amount of money will replace the loss of your loved one, but it may help your family to recover financially so you can focus on healing. As always, we don’t recover a fee unless you win.
Greenville, South Carolina wrongful death attorney, David R. Price, Jr. and his staff will give you dedication, compassion, and a personal representative. We will use our experience, skill, and knowledge to be a strong advocate for you and your family to help you receive some form of justice by recovering the compensation you deserve.