The death of a loved one is tragic, and family members who are taken too soon because of mistakes and negligence deserve justice.
If a loved one was killed in an accident or because of someone else’s actions, you could be entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit. An attorney can help you file your case and get the compensation you deserve. There are nuances to every case, including issues with facts and evidence, legal deadlines to observe, and insurance adjusters to contend with. For help, you should speak with one of our Columbia, SC wrongful death attorneys.
Burriss Ridgeway Injury Lawyers work to help families seek compensation in wrongful death cases. Our Columbia, SC wrongful death lawyers work to hold dangerous drivers, companies, property owners, and other defendants responsible for deadly injuries. For a free case consultation, call us at (803) 451-4000.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Columbia, SC?
Wrongful death lawsuits in South Carolina are filed to help the surviving family get damages. However, the lawsuit is actually filed by the executor of the deceased’s estate. The executor is the person named in a will or by law that takes care of the deceased’s affairs after death. This would be the same person who distributes their assets and takes care of other estate issues after death.
This can be somewhat complicated because this person only brings the lawsuit, but the family is supposed to benefit from it. Lawsuits for wrongful death in South Carolina are intended to pay damages to the surviving spouse and children of the deceased. If the subject of the wrongful death lawsuit died without a spouse or kids, then the benefits go to their parents instead. If there are also no parents, then whoever that deceased person’s heirs are can get the winnings from the case – whether that be someone determined by law (a surviving sibling, for instance) or someone named in a will (an unmarried dating partner, a close friend, etc.).
Ultimately, you should speak with a lawyer about how to sue for wrongful death in South Carolina. Because these cases are filed by one party but intended to benefit another party, it can be confusing. Our Columbia wrongful death attorneys work to represent your interests and fight to get your family the compensation they need after the death of a loved one.
When Can You File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Columbia, SC?
Under S.C. Code Ann. § 15-51-10, wrongful death lawsuits can be filed any time that a person dies in an accident or other incident caused through a “wrongful act” or “neglect.” Essentially, this type of case is designed to help the family of a victim that would have been able to sue for their injuries if they had survived. Wrongful death lawsuits are often filed after accidental deaths involving many of the following situations:
- Car accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Serious slip and falls
- Defective product malfunctions
- Auto defects
- Medical device malfunctions
- Medical malpractice
- Murder and assault
If there is someone – whether that be a person or a company – who could have been held responsible for a normal injury lawsuit, that person can be held liable for a wrongful death lawsuit. However, these claims only work when there is a legal duty that the defendant violated. For example, car accident wrongful death claims can often be filed when the driver violated a traffic law or a standard safe-driving expectation. The duty in other wrongful death cases will depend on the relationship between the defendant and the victim as well as other factors.
One other factor to consider about when to sue is that the earlier you file your case, the better. If you go to a wrongful death lawyer after months or years have passed, necessary evidence could be gone. Documents and video footage necessary for your case could have been deleted or destroyed. Witnesses could forget what happened.
To reflect these risks, South Carolina also imposes a statute of limitations on wrongful death cases. While criminal cases for murder typically have no statute of limitations, civil wrongful death claims must be filed within 3 years under S.C. Code Ann. § 15-3-20. This is merely the deadline for filing the case; claims can be resolved after the 3-year deadline has passed as long as they are filed on time.
Damages in Wrongful Death Claims in South Carolina
While criminal cases for murder and manslaughter seek to punish the defendant, wrongful death claims seek to help the victim’s family. When you sue for wrongful death, you can get compensation to help you and your family continue on after the death of a loved one.
Wrongful death lawsuits are like personal injury cases in that they seek to compensate the victim. Here, the victim has already passed, so the surviving family members or other heirs get the compensation instead. Claims for the death of a loved one can typically compensate the family for any damages the victim would have claimed, such as medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages before their death. Family members can also claim other damages related to the death, such as ongoing lost income for the household, lost counsel, lost companionship, and grief. You may also be able to claim damages you faced yourself, such as funeral and burial expenses, grief counseling, and more.
Families can also claim punitive damages to punish the defendant for the death if it was caused by serious negligence, criminal activity, or malicious intent.
Call Our Wrongful Death Lawyers in Columbia, SC for Help with Your Case
The Columbia, SC wrongful death attorneys at Burriss Ridgeway Injury Lawyers represent the family and friends of people killed in accidents. For help filing a wrongful death lawsuit and getting the compensation you and your family need to move forward, call us at (803) 451-4000.