Losing a loved one to someone else’s negligence — or worse — is a tragic experience that no amount of compensation can ever right. However, obtaining the fair compensation to which you are entitled can help you and your family move toward healing.
If this is the difficult situation you find yourself in, don’t wait to consult with an experienced Moncks Corner wrongful death lawyer at West Law Firm Personal Injury Lawyers.
Wrongful Death Attorneys Serving Moncks Corner
In South Carolina, a wrongful death claim can be filed in instances when the deceased – the decedent in the claim – died as a result of someone else’s negligent, deliberate, or reckless act.
Wrongful death claims often relate to the following kinds of claims:
- Traffic accidents of every kind, including truck, car, and motorcycle
- Medical malpractice claims
- Premises liability claims, including slip and fall accidents
- Accidents on the job
- The commission of crimes
Whatever the precipitating event is, discussing your concerns with a practiced personal injury lawyer early in the process is well advised.
Filing the Wrongful Death Claim
In the State of South Carolina, wrongful death claims are brought by the executor or representative named in the decedent’s will. The court will assign one if there is no will or if no representative is named. This representative or executor files the wrongful death claim on behalf of the decedent’s survivors.
Who can file a wrongful death claim in South Carolina?
In a South Carolina wrongful death action, the claim is filed on behalf of the decedent’s survivors in the following order:
- The decedent’s surviving spouse
- The decedent’s surviving children
- The decedent’s surviving parents
If none of these apply, the claim will be filed on behalf of the decedent’s heirs – in accordance with the state’s laws of intestacy, which means its inheritance laws.
Wrongful Death Damages
The legal damages — or losses — you can seek in relation to a wrongful death claim can include all the following:
- The cost of your loved one’s funeral and burial
- The medical bills incurred by your loved one from the time of being injured to the time of succumbing to those injuries
- The loss of financial support and job-related benefits you experience as a result of your loved one’s death
- The lost benefit of your loved one’s experience, judgment, and knowledge
- The lost benefit of your loved one’s care, protection, and companionship
- The pain and suffering you experience as a result of your immense loss
In extreme situations in which the at-fault party’s actions were deliberate or particularly reckless, the court has the discretion to also include exemplary — or punitive — damages, which are not intended to compensate the survivors but are, instead, meant to serve as a deterrent to others and to punish the wrongdoer.
The Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations in South Carolina
It’s important to note that moving forward with your wrongful death claim sooner rather than later is always in your best interest.
In South Carolina, the statute of limitations — or the time limitation — for filing a wrongful death lawsuit is only three years. Wrongful death claims are especially complex, which makes this three-year limitation especially brief and makes working with a dedicated wrongful death lawyer well advised.
Once this three-year window shuts, you’ll have no further opportunity to obtain the compensation to which you and your family are entitled.
Wrongful Death Cases Are Civil Cases
If someone else’s wrongdoing causes your family member to lose their life, the at-fault party can potentially face criminal charges, but this does not alter your ability to bring a civil case against them. Wrongful death cases are civil, rather than criminal, which means they address only financial compensation rather than jail time or other criminal consequences.
To be convicted of a crime, the defendant’s guilt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the highest legal bar. For a wrongful death case, on the other hand, you are required to prove the wrongdoer’s guilt with a preponderance of the evidence, which means that it is more likely that they are responsible for your loved one’s death than that they are not.
In South Carolina, a person can face both a criminal and a civil case for the same action.
An Experienced Moncks Corner Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help
The aftereffects of losing a family member to someone else’s wrongdoing is especially jarring, and the effort required to get your bearings and move forward is likely to be considerable.
West Law Firm Personal Injury Lawyers is a well-established family-run law firm in Moncks Corner, South Carolina, that has enduring ties to the community that go back several generations. E. Mason West is the firm’s formidable wrongful death lawyer, and he has an impressive track record of ably guiding challenging claims like yours toward advantageous outcomes that allow our clients to heal and continue moving forward in the face of their tragic loss.
Wrongful Death Case FAQs
Will I need to pay my wrongful death lawyer upfront?
Wrongful death lawyers help survivors obtain the compensation they need to move forward after a tragic loss, and as a result, most work on what is known as a contingency basis. This means their pay is contingent on the outcomes of their cases. If your case prevails, your lawyer will receive a prearranged percentage of the settlement or court award.
Why do I need to hire a lawyer?
Wrongful death claims are notoriously complicated, and because obtaining just compensation will likely play a critical role in your recovery, working closely with an accomplished wrongful death lawyer is to your advantage.
Am I entitled to compensation?
If you are the surviving spouse, child, or parent of a person who lost their life to someone else’s wrongdoing, you may be entitled to all, or a portion, of the compensation awarded in the resulting wrongful death claim.