If you have experienced the death of a loved one, you understand that you could be dealing with more than just emotions. If a loved one’s death was caused by someone else’s reckless or careless acts, you may be left with medical expenses, funeral costs, loss of income and loss of companionship.
Those left behind are left dealing with their loss compounded by financial burdens. Fortunately, South Carolina law allows surviving family members to bring various claims against the at-fault party to help ease the financial burden. The law cannot bring your relative back, but it can help you move forward by securing the money your family needs at a critical time. There are at least two different causes of action that need to be explored when a family member has been lost.
The first is a survival action. This cause of action is to compensate the deceased family member’s estate for any damages that the person would have been entitled to had they survived. These damages include, but are not limited to: medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. The second cause of action is for wrongful death. The wrongful death cause of action compensates the family of the deceased due to the family member’s loss.
Wrongful Death Lawsuits in South Carolina
South Carolina Code Annotated §15-51-10 lays out the cause of action for wrongful death. The statute allows a wrongful death claim to proceed where a person’s death was “caused by the wrongful act, neglect or default of another.”
A deceased person’s spouse and children can recover in a wrongful death claim. If there is no spouse or children, the action is for the benefit of the person’s parents. If there was no spouse, children or parents, then the action is for the benefit of the heirs as defined by South Carolina law.
Under South Carolina law, only the executor or administrator of the deceased person’s estate can bring a wrongful death action.
What Can a Family Member Recover in a Wrongful Death Action?
There are some differences between the types of damages that are available under a South Carolina Wrongful Death claim as compared to a Survival claim.
The damages available in a Wrongful Death claim are those incurred by the survivors and may include the following:
- Grief and sorrow.
- Funeral and burial costs.
- Loss of financial support and benefits.
- Loss of household services, such as childcare and household chores.
- Loss of companionship, experience, love and guidance.
- Pain and suffering/ wounded feelings.
- Punitive damages in exceptional situations where the defendant was reckless, willful or malicious in causing the death, such as DUI or racing, etc.
What if criminal charges were dropped involving an accident?
Because a wrongful death claim is entirely removed from any criminal charges, neither proceedings affect the other. For example, if a defendant is acquitted of vehicular manslaughter in the death of another driver or passenger, he can still be sued by the victim’s family for wrongful death.
Contact Our Wrongful Death Lawyers Today
If you have lost a loved one in an accident that was caused by someone else’s negligent or intentional act, you can trust Venus Poe, P.A. to work to get you the money and benefits you and your family are entitled to in order to put your life back together. You need a lawyer who listens to your concerns and can help your family during this difficult time.
There are numerous possible factual and legal differences in each case. Please call me at (864) 963-0310 to ask any questions and make an appointment for a free consultation in regards to this or any other injury related questions.