South Carolina Wrongful Death Lawyers

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Accidents resulting in wrongful death can leave surviving families with severe financial and emotional stress. In South Carolina, civil law permits the opportunity to recover damages. While it cannot replace a loved one, it does allow you to hold the at-fault party accountable. Our South Carolina wrongful death lawyers at Schiller & Hamilton can help, serving families across Bluffton, Beaufort, Fort Mill, Gaffney, Hilton Head, Lancaster, Rock Hill and York County.

What Is Considered a Wrongful Death in South Carolina?

In South Carolina, a wrongful death is one resulting from another’s wrongful act, neglect or default. If the deceased had survived, they would have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party. This law implies that the death occurred due to actions or inactions that constitute a legal fault, akin to those in personal injury cases.

Types of cases our South Carolina wrongful death lawyers handle

Wrongful death suits commonly arise from situations where negligence or intentional harm leads to a person’s death. These cases often involve complex legal and emotional issues, requiring a thorough understanding of the circumstances leading to the fatality. Common types of cases our wrongful death attorneys in South Carolina handle include:

  • Medical malpractice: Deaths resulting from healthcare professionals’ negligence, such as surgical errors, misdiagnoses or inadequate treatment
  • Car accidents: Fatalities caused by reckless or negligent driving, including DUI or distracted driving incidents
  • Workplace accidents: Deaths occurring in work environments, often in industries like construction or manufacturing, due to unsafe practices or equipment
  • Product liability: Deaths caused by defective or dangerous products, where manufacturers or distributors are responsible
  • Criminal acts: Deaths resulting from criminal actions like assault or murder, where perpetrators face civil liability in addition to criminal charges

In these suits, families seek compensation for their loss, addressing financial and emotional damages. They often require demonstrating how the defendant’s actions directly led to the victim’s death. This process involves gathering evidence, understanding legal precedents and often, enduring a profoundly personal and challenging legal journey. Turning to a wrongful death lawyer at our firm can help alleviate some of that burden.

Who Can File for a Wrongful Death?

In South Carolina, the law requires the executor or administrator of the deceased’s estate to file a wrongful death claim. If the deceased left a will, it typically names the executor. If there is no will, or the named executor cannot or does not wish to serve, the court appoints someone suitable.

This appointed individual, while filing the claim, does so on behalf of the deceased’s surviving family members. These family members are the rightful recipients of any awarded damages. The law specifies a hierarchy for eligible family members:

  • The deceased’s surviving spouse and children hold the primary right to damages.
  • Without a spouse or children, the deceased’s surviving parents become the eligible recipients.
  • If there are no surviving parents, spouses or children, then the heirs of the deceased receive the damages.

This structure ensures that those most affected by the loss receive support from the wrongful death claim. The legal process in South Carolina aims to provide justice and financial assistance to the bereaved family, recognizing the profound impact of their loss.

How Do You Prove Wrongful Death?

To prove wrongful death, one must establish four key elements. These include duty of care, breach of duty, causation and damages. First, you must show that the defendant owed a duty of care to the deceased. This duty varies depending on the relationship. For example, a doctor has to provide competent medical care to a patient. Second, there must be evidence that the defendant breached this duty. This breach could be an act of negligence, such as a driver not obeying traffic laws or a more direct action, like intentional harm.

Third, you or your wrongful death lawyer must prove that the defendant’s breach of duty directly caused the death. This involves linking the breach to the fatal outcome, often requiring expert testimony. Finally, the plaintiff must demonstrate damages, including financial losses like medical bills and lost income, and non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering and loss of companionship.

What Damages Can You Recover for a Wrongful Death Claim?

In South Carolina, the court refers to all losses incurred from a wrongful death case as compensatory damages. These include the economic and non-economic impact of your loss. Your wrongful death attorney will help you identify and prove these losses to ensure your settlement or award adequately covers your losses. In rarer cases, you may also access punitive damages.

Compensatory losses

Compensatory damages in a wrongful death lawsuit aim to provide financial restitution for losses incurred due to the death. These damages can include:

  • Medical expenses incurred by your loved one before their passing
  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Lost income and benefits the deceased would have earned
  • Loss of companionship and support
  • Pain and suffering endured by the deceased before death

These damages help alleviate the financial and emotional burden on the deceased’s family, aiming to restore some sense of stability and support in the wake of your loss.

Punitive damages

Punitive damages in a wrongful death case are monetary penalties imposed on the defendant to punish egregious conduct and deter similar future behavior. These damages go beyond compensating the victim’s family and focus on penalizing the wrongdoer for particularly harmful or reckless actions.

Why Hire a South Carolina Wrongful Death Lawyer From Schiller & Hamilton?

If you recently lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligent or wrongful actions, the legal team at Schiller & Hamilton can help you understand how personal injury law applies to your case. We know the financial and emotional devastation these incidents can cause. We will fight to ensure you can access the compensation you need and deserve. Contact us today to speak to our South Carolina wrongful death lawyers, serving Bluffton, Beaufort, Fort Mill, Gaffney, Hilton Head, Lancaster, Rock Hill and York County.

FAQs About South Carolina Wrongful Death Law

Is it hard to win a wrongful death lawsuit?

Winning a wrongful death lawsuit can be challenging. Success depends on proving negligence or intentional harm by the defendant, which requires substantial evidence. Each case varies, and the complexity of legal procedures often necessitates skilled legal representation.

How are wrongful death settlements calculated?

When calculating a wrongful death settlement, we consider factors like the deceased’s earning capacity and savings, the financial needs of dependents and the costs incurred from the death. We also factor in noneconomic aspects like emotional distress and loss of companionship.

What is the statute of limitations for a wrongful death case?

In South Carolina, the executor of your loved one’s estate has three years from the date of their death to file a wrongful death claim. Attempts to file after the deadline would likely result in the dismissal of your case.

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