Graphic with words wrongful death loss of life due to another's actions

How a Skilled Attorney Estimates the Value of a South Carolina Wrongful Death Case

No dollar amount can ever overcome the grief associated with the passing of a loved one. If their death was caused by someone’s accidental or intentional negligence, you may be eligible to recover costs and seek compensation. Correctly calculating damages for a fair settlement can alleviate some of the financial burden. However, some expenses are more easily tabulated than others. It’s crucial to consult with an experienced South Carolina wrongful death attorney at Pracht Injury Lawyers to decide on an accurate figure. Final settlement amounts can be in the millions of dollars in some cases. 

Possible South Carolina Wrongful Death Damages

Not every accidental death is necessarily a wrongful death. South Carolina law states that wrongful death is when a person dies as the result of someone’s negligence or carelessness. Estimating the economic and non-economic damages in a wrongful death action is a complex ordeal. Here are some aspects we consider for our clients. 

Property Damage

Any property damage related to the incident may be eligible. One of the most common examples is from a South Carolina car accident. The legal action can seek to recover costs related to the repair or replacement of the wrecked vehicle. 

Lost Wages and Future Earnings

It’s easier to calculate lost wages than future earnings and benefits. Consider if the victim survived the accident itself and passed away sometime after that. You can calculate the income they would have earned during this period if they had been able to work. Estimating future earning potential is more nuanced. Factors may include projected career and income growth, as well as working life expectancy. This includes both wages and benefits, like family health insurance coverage. 

If a workplace accident is to blame, then South Carolina Code of Laws Section 42-9-290 may apply. A worker’s compensation claim would allow for up to two-thirds of the deceased person’s salary for up to 500 weeks—that’s about nine and a half years. This assumes the family is completely dependent on their salary. If they’re not, the payments are reduced proportionally to the level of dependence. 

Medical Bills and Healthcare Costs

Medical expenses can prove especially costly, and represent a significant financial burden for grieving families. All medical bills and expenses related to the person’s final injury or illness, along with the actual death, may be eligible to recover in a wrongful death case. 

Funeral and Burial Expenses

Final arrangements for burial, cremation, and funeral proceedings can be included in a South Carolina wrongful death lawsuit. In the case of a workplace accident, worker’s compensation may provide a one-time payment of up to $12,000 to help pay for funeral expenses. 

Pain and Suffering Before Death

In many cases, families file wrongful death and survival action cases at the same time. Wrongful death largely looks at expenses after a person dies due to someone else’s negligence. By contrast, survival action looks at damages they may have sought had they survived the accident and filed a personal injury lawsuit. In this way, the family may seek compensation for the pain and suffering their loved one endured after the incident and before their eventual passing. 

Loss of Consortium

Along with pain and suffering, loss of consortium is one of the most common types of non-economic damages in wrongful death lawsuits. It’s more challenging to assign a dollar figure to compensate grieving families for the loss of a person’s love, care, and companionship. Judges and juries award non-economic damages at their discretion.

Emotional Trauma and Mental Anguish

Other non-economic damages for surviving family members may include the emotional pain and suffering they experience as a result of the tragic loss of a loved one. This can relate to the emotional hardships caused by the death but also to costs related to grief counseling and other expenses. 

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages, also called exemplary damages, are rare in South Carolina wrongful death cases. They apply when wrongdoers are especially reckless or deliberate in their actions. Fatal drunk driving accidents may justify punitive damages. The court might grant punitive damages to deter other parties from engaging in similarly harmful behavior. 

Factors and Evidence to Calculate Recoverable Costs and Damages

When filing a wrongful death lawsuit in South Carolina, you can support economic damages through valid evidence and documentation. Lost wages and future earning potential are substantiated with past pay stubs. Medical bills and invoices from funeral homes document the exact costs incurred by your family.  

Calculating non-economic damages isn’t as simple. Whether a case of drunk driving or wrongful death by medical malpractice, a skilled attorney at Pracht Injury Lawyers works hard to present a compelling argument for why your family deserves a certain settlement amount. We can demonstrate how valuable your loved one was to your family and the positive impact they had on their community. 

Insurance policy limits held by the defendant can impact recoverable costs, too. Personal injury protection on car insurance may only cover up to $25,000. If damages exceed their insurance coverage, plaintiffs must then question the defendant’s ability to pay for these damages. Knowledgeable legal counsel will negotiate for the maximum compensation possible. 

Pursue the Fair Compensation Settlement You Deserve

The tragic passing of a loved one due to someone else’s negligent or intentional actions can be devastating. Your family has a right to justice and proper compensation to relieve your financial burden. The trusted South Carolina wrongful death attorneys at Pracht Injury Lawyers have the skill and experience to navigate such difficult times.  

With a statute of limitations of just three years, it’s critical to seek skilled legal representation right away. Wrongful death actions can take a lot of time to gather evidence and build the strongest case possible. Allow our talented attorneys to handle legal matters as you focus on your family’s emotional needs.