Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death in South Carolina?
Understanding who you can sue for wrongful death in South Carolina is essential if you want to obtain justice and financial compensation for the loss of your loved one. If you ever find yourself in this difficult circumstance, it’s important to obtain legal counsel from a qualified professional.
Definition of Wrongful Death in South Carolina
Wrongful death in South Carolina is a death caused by the wrongful act – intentional or negligent – of another party. Car accidents, medical negligence, workplace accidents, and defective products are a few examples of events that may give rise to wrongful death lawsuits. It’s important to recognize these situations to determine whether a wrongful death claim is appropriate.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in South Carolina:
In South Carolina, only executors or administrators of a deceased victim’s estate can file a wrongful death claim. If the victim had an estate plan, it would name the executor or administrator. If there is no estate plan, the court will appoint an executor.
The executor or administrator files the wrongful death claim on behalf of the deceased victim’s loved ones who are eligible to recover damages in the claim. The awarding of damages goes, in order, to:
- Surviving spouse and any children of the deceased victim
- If no spouse or child, then to the victim’s surviving parents
- If no spouse, children, or parents, then to the heirs of the deceased
Damages Recoverable in Wrongful Death Lawsuits:
In a wrongful death lawsuit, family members can recover both economic and non-economic damages. Medical bills, funeral and burial fees, and lost wages and potential earnings are examples of economic damages.
Economic and Non-Economic Damages
Non-economic damages compensate surviving family members for their grief, and loss of companionship, emotional support, care, and services.
Funeral and burial costs refer to the costs associated with laying your loved one to rest—everything from the casket and embalming fees to cemetery plot fees and headstones can be covered by these damages.
Lost income is any money or compensation that your loved one would have made if they hadn’t passed away suddenly; this is crucial if you were dependent on them financially before they died. This includes lost income from retirement accounts and health insurance as well.
Pain and suffering covers any emotional pain caused by losing your loved one—this includes things like depression or anxiety caused by grief.
Punitive damages may also be offered in some situations to penalize the negligent party and serve as a deterrence to similar future behavior. Under South Carolina law, “Punitive damages may be awarded only if the plaintiff proves by clear and convincing evidence that his harm was the result of the defendant’s wilful, wanton, or reckless conduct.”
When deciding if punitive damages are appropriate, part of the consideration is “the likelihood the award will deter the defendant or others from like conduct.”
Filing a wrongful death lawsuit can be an emotionally taxing and legally complex process, especially at an already difficult time in your life. However, it can provide much-needed closure, ensuring that those responsible face consequences for their actions as well as providing financial support for survivors who have lost out due to their loved one’s untimely passing.
If you believe that negligence or an intentional act was involved in your loved one’s passing and want help recovering damages, contact our Charleston wrongful death lawyers today to schedule a free consultation.