If you intend to file a wrongful death claim, it’s wise to seek legal counsel. You and your family have enough to worry about, after all, without having to navigate convoluted legal proceedings. Thankfully, a resourceful lawyer with the right experience can handle all the logistics of your case.
Even if you hire an attorney, it’s still advisable to familiarize yourself with some of the legal terms you might encounter during the proceedings. This will allow you to discuss the case with confidence whenever you have questions or concerns.
Read on for some of the most common terms you may hear during the claims process:
1. Strict Liability
Strict liability is the imposition of liability without the need to prove intent or negligence. It generally applies to cases involving defective products. If your loved one died in a car wreck because the vehicle malfunctioned, for example, you may only have to prove that a defect existed, and not that the manufacturer was negligent at some point during production.
Most personal injury claims are founded on negligence, which refers to a breach of the duty of care. Depending on the circumstances, this duty can be formally established or implied.
For example, visiting a doctor in a clinical setting establishes a duty of care. Every time you get behind the wheel, on the other hand, you assume an implied duty of care to those in traffic around you.
Every successful wrongful death claim involves sufficient evidence of causation. This is established by proving the death would not have happened but for the tort.
While proving causation may seem relatively straightforward, disputes can—and often do—arise. This is especially true for claims involving victims who had preexisting conditions.
4. Compensatory Damages
Compensatory damages are those that essentially reimburse the plaintiff for the losses they incur as a result of the defendant’s conduct. In South Carolina wrongful death cases, recoverable damages might include:
- Funeral and burial expenses;
- Medical bills resulting from the victim’s final injury or illness;
- Lost wages and benefits;
- Property repairs;
- Loss of the victim’s experience, knowledge, and judgement;
- Loss of the victim’s care, companionship, and protection; and
- Pain, suffering, and mental anguish endured by surviving loved ones.
5. Punitive Damages
Although most wrongful death claims don’t warrant punitive damages, there are a few scenarios in which they apply. Generally speaking, a plaintiff may seek a punitive award in addition to the standard compensatory damages if the defendant’s conduct constituted malice, ill will, or a conscious indifference or reckless disregard for others’ rights, health, safety, or wellbeing.
6. Statute of Limitations
If the liable party refuses to cooperate, you may have no choice but to file suit. There are deadlines by which lawsuits must be filed called statute of limitations. Should you attempt to file suit after the applicable deadline has passed, the judge will likely dismiss your case.
In South Carolina, the standard statute of limitations for wrongful death suits is three years. If you’ll be taking action against a government entity, though, it may just be two years. As there are a few other exceptions to this deadline, it’s wise to call a lawyer as soon as possible.
Call 864-585-3873 to Speak with a Wrongful Death Attorney
If your loved one died in some kind of preventable accident, reach out to Hodge & Langley Law Firm to see if you might have grounds for legal action. Get the knowledge, resources, and experience of well-respected and prominent attorneys on your side. Call 864-585-3873 or fill out our Contact Form to schedule a free consultation with a wrongful death lawyer in South Carolina.