Orangeburg, SC Wrongful Death Attorney
When a family member passes away, it can be incredibly painful for family members to move on. When wrongful or negligent behavior is involved, family members can sue and get justice for their loved ones.
A problem many potential plaintiffs have is determining whether they have a claim for wrongful death. The death of a family member always feels wrongful, but a legal claim must be based on death caused by someone’s negligent behavior. Accidents or intentional acts of violence are common in many wrongful death cases. While you might be eager to begin the case, a designated administrator or representative of the deceased person’s estate must submit the claim. However, immediate family members may be named as beneficiaries and receive financial compensation. Damages are commonly very high in wrongful death cases, as economic and non-economic losses may be substantial. You should also talk to your attorney about a survival action related to expenses and injuries your loved one encountered before passing away.
To schedule a free evaluation of your claims for no charge, call Burriss Ridgeway Injury Lawyers at (803) 451-4000 and speak with our wrongful death attorneys.
What is a Wrongful Death Claim in Orangeburg, SC?
Identifying a wrongful death can be difficult. Losing someone close to you feels wrong on many levels, even at the best times. Determining whether you have a cause of action requires analyzing the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s passing.
Under S.C. Code Ann. § 15-51-10, a wrongful death occurs when someone dies because of another’s wrongful act, neglect, or failure to act. The wrongful behavior must be such that the deceased person could have sued for their injuries and damages if they survived.
A common example of a wrongful death lawsuit is a car accident case. Car accidents are common, and accident victims sometimes do not survive. Even if the other driver did not intend to hurt anyone, their negligence behind the wheel is still the direct cause of death. As such, they can be held civilly liable.
While intentional acts are also common in wrongful death cases, it is important to remember that not all defendants facing wrongful death allegations are criminally charged. For example, defendants liable for negligence or failures to act are not always criminally culpable. Even so, a defendant does not have to be criminally charged for them to be held civilly liable.
Who Submits a Lawsuit for Wrongful Death in Orangeburg, SC
It is normal for devastated families to want immediate legal action after losing someone close. While a lawyer can help you begin a lawsuit, you also need a personal representative of the deceased person’s estate.
In South Carolina, not just anyone can file a wrongful death lawsuit with the courts. Someone appointed as the administrator or personal representative of the deceased person’s estate must be the one to file the case.
If you are unsure who the personal representative is, check with a lawyer. Often, the representative is named in someone’s will. If no representative or administrator is named or there is no will, an attorney can help you get one appointed by the courts.
You may still play an active role in the lawsuit even if you are not the personal representative. Family members may still be beneficiaries and receive compensation for their damages. According to S.C. Code Ann. § 15-51-20, beneficiaries may include spouses and children of the deceased. If there is no surviving spouse or children, the deceased’s parents may be beneficiaries. If there are no parents, the heirs of the deceased person may be beneficiaries. Heirs might include people in line to inherit the estate in accordance with probate laws, such as siblings, nieces, or nephews.
Wrongful Death Damages in Orangeburg, SC
Under the law, the jury may award damages in wrongful death cases as they believe are appropriate and proportional to the injuries sustained by the plaintiffs. This includes economic, non-economic, and exemplary damages. Damages are generally divided according to how beneficiaries would have normally recovered if the deceased person died without a will.
Economic damages should include burial and funeral expenses. On top of that, you can claim various monetary losses related to wrongful death. For example, a spouse might claim economic damages for the lost income their deceased spouse would have provided to the household if not for the defendant’s wrongful behavior.
Non-economic injuries might include numerous damages for pain, suffering, anguish, and other distressing experiences. The value of these damages is inherently subjective, and our wrongful death attorneys will work to convince the jury that your pain and suffering are significant and deserve fair compensation.
Exemplary damages are meant to punish the defendant for their wrongful behavior. These damages may only be awarded in cases where the defendant is found to have acted willfully, maliciously, or recklessly. This is a high bar to meet, and not every case receives an award of exemplary damages.
Survival Actions and Wrongful Death Cases in Orangeburg, SC
A survival action is related to the losses and injuries the deceased person could have sued for had they survived. In many cases, family members seek damages for medical bills, pain, and suffering experienced by their family members after they were injured but before they passed away. This tends to be more common when people do not immediately succumb to their injuries and live for a few days or weeks before dying.
Many survival actions are directly related to wrongful death lawsuits, and they are usually brought at the same time. However, some survival actions are independent of a wrongful death claim. For example, suppose your loved one passed away after a bad car accident. Next, suppose they were badly injured by a defective kitchen knife while cooking several weeks before the car accident. Family members could still file a survival action for the product liability case involving the kitchen knife even though it has nothing to do with the wrongful death in the car accident. Tell your lawyer if you believe your loved one had pending legal claims before passing away.
Contact Our Orangeburg, SC Wrongful Death Lawyers for Assistance
To set up a free assessment of your claims for no charge, call Burriss Ridgeway Injury Lawyers at (803) 451-4000 and speak with our wrongful death attorneys.