The death of a loved one or family member is always a traumatic experience. When the death is caused by the negligence of another, it is even more devastating to accept the loss. Anyone’s death in and of itself is a stressful and painful experience. When the manner of death is through no fault of the deceased or not due to natural causes, the pain, suffering and mental anguish is aggravated. When this occurs, it is known under the law as a “Wrongful Death”. Wrongful Deaths occurred in many different circumstances, including but not limited to, motor vehicle accidents and medical malpractice.
South Carolina law recognizes how devastating a Wrongful Death can be to the surviving family members and friends of the deceased, and provides specific damages that can be recovered to compensate for the loss. The compensable damages include the following:
- Funeral and burial expenses.
- Medical bills and expenses related to the deceased person’s final injury.
- Lost wages and benefits.
- Property damages and other financial losses related to the death.
- Loss of the deceased person’s experience, knowledge and judgment.
- Loss of the deceased person’s care, companionship and protection.
- Surviving family members’ pain and suffering and mental anguish.
If the conduct that caused the death was deliberate or reckless, punitive damages may also be awarded.
Compensable damages may also be awarded under a Survivorship Claim. This occurs was the death is not instantaneous. Damages in this case can be awarded for the deceased’s pain and suffering from the time of the original injury up to the death.
In order to bring a claim for Wrongful Death, an Estate must be established in Probate Court. A Personal Representative, usually a close family member, is appointed to represent the interests of the Estate. In South Carolina, any settlement of a Wrongful Death claim must be approved by the Court to ensure that the deceased last wishes are carried out and that all potential heirs to the Estate are compensated according to the law.
Schiller & Hamilton has handled numerous Wrongful Death and Survivorship claims. Given the special procedures and circumstances surrounding these types of cases, it is important to have the experienced probate lawyers at Schiller & Hamilton.