When a loved one dies unexpectedly, you certainly cannot put a dollar value on his or her life. You can, however, total some of the economic damages left in the wake of the loss. And if you can prove liability and causation, you can seek compensation for the resulting economic (and non-economic) damages by filing a wrongful death claim.
In South Carolina, successful wrongful death cases may yield funds for the following losses:
- Reasonable funeral and burial expenses;
- Lost income and benefits that the deceased would have earned over the course of his or her career;
- Medical bills related to treating the fatal injury or illness;
- Property damage or other objectively calculable losses resulting from the accident that caused the victim’s death;
- Loss of the deceased’s care, companionship, and protection;
- Loss of the deceased’s experience, knowledge, and judgement; and
- Mental anguish and emotional distress suffered by surviving family members.
If the liable party’s conduct constituted a deliberate or reckless disregard for the deceased’s rights or safety, your family may also be entitled to a punitive award, depending on the defendant’s conduct and position. Unlike compensatory damages, which encompass the economic and non-economic damages listed above, punitive damages are unrelated to the plaintiff’s actual losses. Instead, they aim to punish the defendant for acting with malice, ill will, conscious indifference, or reckless disregard, and preventing such misconduct in the future.
What Damages Might Be Recoverable in a Survival Action?
Your family may be able to file a survival action in addition to the wrongful death claim. When successful, these actions yield compensation for damages that the deceased incurred prior to passing. Examples include medical bills, pain and suffering, and other losses he or she would have been able to pursue in a personal injury claim had he or she survived.
Who May Take Action Following a Wrongful Death?
In South Carolina, the personal representative of the deceased’s estate must file both the wrongful death claim and survival action. This is a process done by will or through the probate court based on a set of criteria and priority for service.
If the wrongful death claim yields a payout, the personal representative will divide the funds among eligible beneficiaries, which might include the deceased’s spouse, children, or parents.
When a survival action results in a payout, the funds go to the deceased’s estate. They are then distributed according the victim’s last will and testament. If there is no will, the laws of intestate succession will apply.
Call 864-585-3873 to Discuss Your Case with a Greenville Wrongful Death Attorney
To find out if you have grounds for a wrongful death claim, turn to Hodge & Langley Law Firm. We are committed to helping grieving families put their lives back together in the wake of tragedy.
Our compassionate attorneys have nearly half a century of combined experience in legal practice. Call 864-585-3873 or fill out our Contact Form to schedule a free consultation with a wrongful death lawyer in Greenville.