What is a wrongful death lawsuit?
The loss of a loved one is always tragic, painful, and overwhelming, but it is even worse when their death was caused by another person’s senseless negligence or even intentional actions.
The Conway, SC wrongful death lawyers at Johnny Gardner Law want to help your family to find Justice, but we also understand that there is no Justice when your loved one has been taken from you – Justice would be bringing them back to you, and we cannot do that.
What we can do is help your family to recover the maximum compensation that you are entitled to under SC law and the facts of your case, hold the responsible party accountable, and, hopefully, provide some degree of closure and healing for you and your family.
In this article, we will cover the basics of wrongful death lawsuits in SC, including:
- The difference between a wrongful death claim and a survival claim,
- SC’s wrongful death laws including who can file a wrongful death lawsuit and when court approval is required for a wrongful death settlement,
- The types of cases that can include wrongful death and survival claims, and
- The types of damages that you may be entitled to in a wrongful death action.
What is a Wrongful Death Claim in SC?
SC Code § 15-51-10 authorizes wrongful death lawsuits in SC.
Whenever a person’s death is caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another, and, if the deceased person would have had the right to sue for damages had they survived, the executor or administrator of the deceased person’s estate can file a wrongful death lawsuit to recover damages on behalf of the deceased person’s spouse, children, or heirs.
Whether the responsible party caused the death through their negligence or intentionally caused the death, they must compensate the deceased person’s family for the terrible harm they have caused.
What is a Survival Claim?
If the deceased person survived for a time after the accident, there is a separate cause of action called a “survival claim.”
The survival claim is filed along with the wrongful death claim in the same lawsuit, and it asks the court to order the responsible party to pay compensation for the medical expenses and the pain and suffering that the deceased person experienced from the incident until their death.
The compensation for the survival claim is paid into the deceased person’s estate, while compensation for the wrongful death claim is paid directly to the surviving family members.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
SC Code § 15-51-20 says that a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed on behalf of “the wife or husband and child or children” of the deceased person. If there are no wife, husband, or children, the lawsuit is filed on behalf of the deceased person’s parents, and, if there are no parents, the lawsuit is filed on behalf of the deceased person’s heirs.
The lawsuit must be filed by the executor, administrator, or personal representative of the deceased person’s estate.
Court Approval for Wrongful Death Settlements
Under SC Code § 15-51-41, any settlement of a wrongful death or survival action must be approved “by either a probate court, circuit court, or US District Court,” and, under SC Code § 15-51-42, only a duly appointed personal representative has the authority to settle a wrongful death or survival action.
Types of Wrongful Death Lawsuits
A wrongful death or survival action can be brought whenever someone dies as a result of another person’s negligent, reckless, or intentional conduct.
Some common examples of cases that involve wrongful death claims include:
- Auto accidents or motorcycle accidents that result in death,
- Drunk driving accidents,
- Pedestrian or bicycle accidents,
- Intentional killings,
- Wrongful death caused by medical malpractice,
- Construction accidents, and
- Deaths caused by defective products
Types of Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
The damages that can be recovered in a wrongful death lawsuit include:
- Medical expenses for the deceased person,
- Funeral and burial costs,
- Loss of financial support from the deceased,
- Loss of companionship,
- Pain and suffering and mental anguish, and
- Punitive damages when the defendant’s actions were reckless, willful, or malicious.
According to SC Code § 15-51-40, the compensation that is recovered in a wrongful death action must be divided among the deceased person’s heirs “in those shares as they would have been entitled to if the deceased had died intestate and the amount recovered had been personal assets of his or her estate.”
Wrongful Death Lawyers in Conway, SC
The loss of a loved one is one of the most difficult things we can go through in our lives – when that loss is caused by another person’s negligence or intentional acts, you should immediately seek help from an experienced wrongful death attorney who can handle the legal aspects of your case while your family focuses on healing and recovery.
If you have lost a family member through the negligence or intentional acts of another person, you may be entitled to significant compensation from the responsible person or persons. Call Johnny Gardner Law or send us an email through our website now to find out how we can help.