Have you experienced the loss of a family member due to the negligent actions of another person? Then you may be thinking of filing a lawsuit after a wrongful death.
Coming to terms with the loss of a loved one is difficult under normal circumstances. It is even worse when the death is due to the negligence of another person.
A Google search of a “wrongful death lawyer near me” will bring up thousands of results. Finding the right wrongful death attorney in Columbia is no easy task. But we will help you find one of the best attorneys in South Carolina.
Who gets the money in a wrongful death lawsuit and who can file a wrongful death claim? Check out our guide to find the answers to these questions and more.
The legal definition of wrongful death is the wrongful act of a person that leads to the death of another, either accidentally or intentionally.
Who can file a wrongful death claim?
There are laws about who can file a wrongful death claim in South Carolina. Surviving family members can choose to file a wrongful death claim. Family members have the right to compensation. Compensation includes monetary coverage for the wages and emotional support the deceased person can no longer provide.
South Carolina defines these family members as:
- A surviving spouse.
- Surviving children.
- Surviving parents.
- Any legal heirs.
What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A wrongful death claim is when you file a lawsuit against a person for causing the death of another. It is different from a murder trial. The big difference is that the goal of criminal charges is to punish the person who committed the crimes.
Criminal cases do not award financial damages to the family members of the deceased. In the case of wrongful death, you would need to file a civil suit.
How to File a Wrongful Death Claim in South Carolina
If you want to know how to file a wrongful death claim in South Carolina, then there are some steps to file a lawsuit.
Every case is unique but here is the general idea of what you can expect when you file a wrongful death lawsuit.
First, you really have to hire an experienced attorney. This is an emotional time and insurance companies are NOT your friends. They are looking out for their own dollar bills, not yours.
Second, you need to gather your evidence. If you are filing a lawsuit, then the burden is on you to provide the right evidence to prove your claims.
Some things you can do are:
- Hire expert help like an accountant to help prove any financial losses.
- Review medical records and speak with doctors.
- If you have a medical malpractice case, hire a Columbia medical malpractice lawyer.
You will also need an attorney to help you locate all potential sources of compensation. For example, a trucking or tractor-trailer accident usually involves an insurance company. There are ways you may be able to increase your compensation.
The most important thing to remember is not to go this alone. You get one chance, and a limited time frame.
Don’t Forget The Time Limit To File Wrongful Death Claims
In South Carolina, a wrongful death claim has to be filed before the legal time set runs out. This legal time is called a statute of limitations.
A wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within 3 years of the date of the person’s death. If you do not file a claim within this time frame, the court will not hear the case.
Wrongful Death Settlement – Who gets the money in a wrongful death lawsuit?
Surviving family members are rewarded damages related to the loss of their loved one. This can involve a large number of monetary damages. Especially if there were related medical bills, loss of inheritance, and funeral expenses.
In South Carolina, the law applies a type of formula to your wrongful death case compensation. This will decide how much money you can get.
This assessment includes:
- The legal fault or liability is established.
- Strength of relationship between surviving family members.
- Evaluation of financial loss the death has caused.
- Proof of funeral expenses and medical bills.
You may also qualify to receive punitive damages. In South Carolina, punitive damages are only awarded when there is evidence the death was caused by recklessness and not just carelessness.
The state of South Carolina laws also have a limit on how much you can receive in certain types of cases like
- A charity or tax-exempt organization like a church has a limit of $300,000.
- Government offices like police or state employees have a limit of $300,000. No punitive damages are allowed.
- Medical malpractice cases are more complicated, and compensation limits are variable.
For these reasons, the average wrongful death settlement payout is difficult to calculate.
There is an order to how wrongful death settlements are paid out. First, the money would go to the surviving spouse and children, then the surviving parents. After that, it goes to the deceased person’s heirs by law.
Heirs recognized by law included grandparents, grandchildren, and siblings. These heirs are entitled to inherit from the deceased, even if there is no will.
Do You Need a Free Case Review with a Wrongful Death Attorney in SC?
If you are looking for a wrongful death attorney in SC, Burriss & Ridgeway have the expertise you need. You’ll know when to sue, and what steps to take.
We are proud winners of the Best Personal Injury Attorney in Columbia in 2020! Our goal is to help you during the time you need it the most.
Losing a loved one is devastating. But you don’t need to go through it alone.
Contact us today or contact us online. (803) 451-4000
We have law offices in Lexington, Columbia, and Orangeburg, SC. And we service the entire state of South Carolina.