When your family has experienced a grievous and sudden loss of a loved one, we understand the legal process may be the last thing that you are thinking about. Your family is grieving and focused on getting through an extremely painful time. It can be especially hard when the untimely death is due to the negligence of someone else.
You can rely on Hite Law Firm Trial Lawyers to be there for you during this difficult period, handling your case with compassion and the utmost diligence. Contact our Abbeville wrongful death attorneys to schedule a consultation and begin the process now.
South Carolina’s Wrongful Death Laws
South Carolina law allows certain family members to receive compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit when they are able to successfully prove their case.
First, the family must file a case before the statute of limitations passes. In South Carolina, the family has three years from the date of the victim’s passing to file a lawsuit. The statute of limitations can be shorter against certain defendants, so it is important to talk with a lawyer promptly.
In South Carolina, the family members are not necessarily the ones who will file a wrongful death lawsuit. State law requires the personal representative of the will to file the case. If the deceased person did not have a will, the court would name a personal representative, and that person will act to file a wrongful death case.
Our attorneys can advise the personal representative about how to fulfill their duties since we handle both wrongful death and probate cases.
The following family members may receive compensation for a wrongful death under South Carolina law:
- The deceased’s surviving spouse and children
- If there is no spouse or children, the deceased’s parents can receive compensation
- If there is no spouse, children, or parents, other heirs, as designated by the deceased person, can receive money.
Examples of Wrongful Death Lawsuits
A wrongful death lawsuit works the same as other personal injury cases, albeit with different damages. Here, there was some type of wrongful action that resulted in the death of the loved one. The action could be intentional, reckless, careless, or negligent. The common theme is that someone else was to blame for your family member’s passing.
Here are some circumstances in which families could file a wrongful death lawsuit:
- Car accidents
- Product liability cases
- Nursing home abuse and neglect
- Motorcycle accidents
- Medical malpractice
There is one type of fatality where your right to file a wrongful death lawsuit may be restricted. If your loved one died on the job, you cannot file a personal injury lawsuit against their employer. Workers compensation is the format for compensation in that scenario. However, you may file a claim against a third party who was responsible for your loved one’s death.
The key element that you must prove in a wrongful death case is that the death was actually wrongful. In most cases, you would try to prove that someone else was negligent. You would need to prove each of the following elements to win your case:
- The defendant owed your loved one the duty of care
- They breached the duty of care by acting unreasonably under the circumstances
- Your loved one died
- Your loved one would not have died had it not been for the actions of the defendant
Tragically losing a loved one is one of the worst things that can happen to a family. The grief alone can consume a family before they even worry about the legal process. An experienced wrongful death lawyer can take some of the burden from your family’s shoulders. Your lawyer can at least offer you some hope during an extremely difficult time and keep you from having to deal directly with legal details.
Damages in a South Carolina Wrongful Death Lawsuit
A wrongful death case is your family’s own personal injury lawsuit. While your family may receive compensation for what your loved one endured between the time of their injury and death, wrongful death damages are measured in terms of what your family has lost.
A deceased loved one meant many things to your family. They may have been a companion, provider, and source of guidance. You had a close relationship with your family member who died, and you are experiencing loss on many levels. While it may seem coarse to put a value on your loved one’s life, that is exactly what you need to do in a wrongful death case.
Here are the damages that your family can recover in a wrongful death lawsuit:
- The wages that your loved one would have earned over the course of the rest of their career
- The loss of the guidance and support that the family members received from the deceased person
- The grief and trauma that your family experienced when a loved one tragically died at someone else’s hands
- The loss of the physical relationship that the spouse had with their deceased partner
In addition, the estate could also file a survival action, which is a personal injury lawsuit on behalf of the beneficiaries for what the deceased person endured between the time of their injury and death. This lawsuit would result in “traditional” personal injury damages that the deceased person suffered before they passed away.
Given the importance of the person who was lost and what the family has endured, wrongful death damages could be significant.
Contact an Abbeville Wrongful Death Attorney Today
Nobody can pretend to understand what your family is going through during this time. What Hite Law Firm Trial Lawyers can do is offer hope that your family is getting justice. We are ready and able to help you when you reach out to contact us.