Defined in South Carolina Code of Laws Section 15-51-10, a wrongful death is a death caused by the “wrongful act, neglect, or default of another.” There are countless scenarios that would constitute wrongful death, but some of the most common include:
- A person dies after being hit by a negligent driver;
- A person dies while using a defective product;
- A person dies as a result of medical malpractice;
- A person dies in a construction accident caused by the negligence of a contractor; or
- A person dies from a tractor trailer collision.
When these types of deaths happen, a wrongful death lawsuit allows certain family members of the deceased or the personal representative of the estate to bring a civil action for damages against the liable party. Keep in mind that a wrongful death lawsuit is different and totally separate from any criminal proceedings involving the liable party.
The action must be brought by the personal representative of the deceased’s estate. The beneficiaries of the action may include the following parties according to the shares to which they would have been entitled if the deceased had died without a will:
- The deceased’s surviving spouse;
- The deceased’s surviving children;
- The surviving parents of the deceased; or
- Other heirs of the deceased.
What Factors Could Impact the Value of a Wrongful Death Case?
The value of your South Carolina wrongful death case will depend on many factors including:
- The age, occupation, and earnings of the deceased;
- The value of any medical bills incurred as a result of the fatal injury or illness;
- The liable party’s insurance coverage and asset value;
- Whether the deceased had any insurance policies that pay benefits in the event of wrongful death; and
- The cost of funeral and burial expenses.
You can expect the insurance company or opposing party to search for any possible reason to deny or undervalue your claim. Wrongful death cases tend to involve significant damages so insurance carriers have plenty of incentive to thoroughly investigate these claims to find reasons to dispute them. A skilled wrongful death attorney can gather evidence, manage correspondence with the insurance adjuster, approximate a fair settlement amount, and help you avoid mistakes that would harm your case.
How Much Time Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In the state of South Carolina, wrongful death lawsuits usually must be filed within three years of the death. If the liable party is a government entity, the statute of limitations is only two years. If the statute of limitations passes before the lawsuit is filed, your case will almost certainly be dismissed.
Speak with a South Carolina Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
At Hodge & Langley Law Firm, we are here to help you every step of the way. We have many years of experience and a record of success* in wrongful death cases of varying complexity. Call us at 864-585-3873 to set up a free consultation or fill out our contact form.
*This should in no way be interpreted as a guarantee of a specific result for your case or any case. All cases are unique and must be evaluated on their own merits.