If a loved one recently passed away because of someone’s negligence, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Examples of negligence leading to death include medical malpractice, car accidents, and nursing home abuse. It is crucial to hire a skilled wrongful death lawyer to protect your rights during this difficult time. Christopher Pracht and his team are here to help.
Who Can File for Wrongful Death in South Carolina?
In South Carolina, there are two types of lawsuits following a wrongful death. Survival action seeks recovery for injuries the victim suffered before they died. A wrongful death claim allows beneficiaries and survivors of the deceased to seek damages. Often, plaintiffs will file both types of legal actions at the same. Because the victim is not able to speak for themselves, someone else must do it for them.
In both cases, it is the personal representative of the deceased who must file the wrongful death lawsuit. This is another name for the person named as the executor in the will. If there is no will, the courts may assign a personal representative. South Carolina Code § 15-51-20 states this legal action “shall be brought by or in the name of the executor or administrator” of the deceased.
Who Can Receive Settlement Claim Proceeds?
While only the personal representative can file for wrongful death in South Carolina, others can receive their share of the settlement. In order of priority, South Carolina’s wrongful death statute names the possible beneficiaries as:
- The spouse and/or children of the deceased
- The parents of the deceased, if they did not have a spouse or children
- The heirs of the deceased, if they have no other survivors
Reasons for Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
No amount of money will ever truly compensate for the preventable passing of a loved one. Filing a wrongful death lawsuit will not bring them back. But, much like personal injury cases, there are valid reasons to proceed with legal action after a wrongful death. It can deliver justice and help dependents get by after the loss of a provider.
The person or business that was responsible for causing the wrongful death should be held accountable for their actions. They may or may not face separate criminal charges for the incident. It’s important to note that a criminal case is separate from any civil action. To seek accountability may mean pursuing both.
For example, a lifeguard may have been negligent in their actions, causing a young child to drown at the swimming pool. The lifeguard may have been distracted playing with their phone and not paying attention, missing the signs that the child needed help. They need to be held accountable.
Wrongful deaths can also be the case with nursing home accidents. Staff may have been neglectful or even purposefully harmful in their behavior. These types of deaths may be preventable, and responsible parties must be held accountable for their actions.
Another reason to file wrongful death legal action is to pursue the recovery of damages. Whether the death came about because of a drunk driving crash or some other incident, there are real economic costs involved. It would be unfair if victims had to pay for these costs alone. The negligent parties who caused the death should be held accountable.
Examples of recoverable damages may include:
- Lost wages, current and future lifetime earnings
- Lost benefits, like health insurance coverage for the family
- Medical expenses after the accident
- Funeral and burial costs
- Pain and suffering of the victim before their passing
- Pain, suffering, and emotional anguish of surviving loved ones
- Loss of the deceased’s experience, knowledge, care, and companionship
- Punitive damages
Some damages are easier to calculate than others. The final bill for the funeral and burial lays out these costs in black and white. But, placing a dollar value on lifelong emotional anguish and loss of companionship isn’t as clear. A skilled wrongful death lawyer like Christopher Pracht can champion your rights and help you get the settlement you deserve.
Deter Future Negligence
Many loved ones of wrongful death victims have the same common wish. They hope that other families do not have to suffer the same fate. They don’t want anyone else to go through what they had to endure. By pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit and seeking punitive damages, part of the hope is that this will help deter future wrongful deaths.
Take the example of someone who passes away as the result of a drowning accident at a South Carolina hotel or resort. Perhaps the pool did not have adequate signage and fencing. A child may have fallen in after hours and drowned. A wrongful death lawsuit can force the property owner to rethink safety measures. After the legal action, they may install better signage and fencing, preventing future accidents from happening. In some cases, a wrongful death lawsuit could close a negligent business altogether, preventing future tragedies.
The results of wrongful death lawsuits and the ensuing settlements can also deter others who may engage in similarly negligent action in the future.
Get Legal Advice From an Experienced Attorney
Navigating the aftermath of a loved one’s passing is never easy. It’s even harder when it’s a wrongful death that could have been prevented. To help you through this difficult time, schedule a free consultation with Pracht Injury Lawyers. We can explain your legal rights and offer insight into how to proceed.
Once we have decided to move forward with a wrongful death claim, we will compile evidence and build the strongest case possible. Remember that the statute of limitations in South Carolina is three years. The claim must be filed within three years of your loved one’s passing. Let us help you get the justice you deserve.