Losing a loved one as a result of someone else’s negligence can leave you facing a very difficult path forward. While a wrongful death lawsuit cannot right the wrong you’ve suffered or alleviate the pain you’re experiencing, it can help leave you and your family better prepared for your journey toward healing.
If you find yourself in this challenging situation, don’t wait to consult with an experienced South Carolina wrongful death attorney.
Wrongful Death Claims in South Carolina
In South Carolina, a representative of the decedent’s estate – the estate of the person who lost their life – brings the wrongful death claim. If the decedent has no will or it does not name a representative, the court will appoint one. The person who fills this role is often a close family member, but it isn’t always the case.
The representative who files the wrongful death claim does so on behalf of the decedent’s surviving relatives, who are in line to benefit in the following order:
- The surviving spouse and children of the decedent
- The parents of the decedent – if there is no surviving spouse and there are no surviving children
- The heirs of the decedent in accordance with South Carolina’s laws of intestacy
Increasing Your Chances of Winning a Wrongful Death Suit
You have suffered a tremendous loss, and the thought of proceeding with a wrongful death suit may be overwhelming. The fact is, however, that just compensation can pave the way for a complete financial recovery, which can help support your emotional recovery. The chances of winning a wrongful death suit are predicated on the strength of the claim, and a wide range of factors can play a role.
Having the guidance of a wrongful death attorney
One of the most important steps you can take to help ensure that your wrongful death lawsuit prevails is working closely with a practiced wrongful death attorney who can help in all the following primary ways:
- Gathering the evidence necessary to build your strongest case, including eyewitness testimony
- Hiring the expert witnesses and having the accident recreation models created that demonstrate the wrongdoer’s fault in the matter
- Compiling the available evidence into a comprehensive case that is difficult to refute
- Demonstrating the full scope of your attendant losses
- Helping you better understand the legal process and helping you make the right decisions for you along the way
The involved insurance company
Sometimes, wrongful death claims are handled by the at-fault party’s insurance company, such as when the fatal accident is a traffic crash. In such an instance, your wrongful death attorney will negotiate with the insurance company for a just settlement that fairly addresses each category of loss you experience.
If the insurance company is willing to engage in fair negotiations, your claim may settle out of court. If, however, the insurance company is more interested in keeping your settlement as low as possible – rather than affording you just compensation – your attorney will be well prepared to file a lawsuit and to ably defend your legal rights in court.
The Elements of Your Claim
For your wrongful death claim to prevail, you must establish each of the following elements:
- Proof of your loved one’s death
- Evidence that establishes the other party’s negligence in the matter
- Proof that you – as the decedent’s surviving relative – suffered a loss of income or another form of covered loss as a result of your loved one’s death
The losses that family members can recover on in South Carolina wrongful death claims include the following:
- The medical bills the decedent incurred prior to succumbing to their injuries
- The pain and suffering the decedent experienced prior to succumbing to their injuries
- The cost of the decedent’s funeral and burial
- The loss of the decedent’s wages and benefits, including projected earnings into the future
- The survivors’ mental anguish and loss of support or companionship
In rare cases in which the at-fault party’s recklessness in the matter is especially egregious, punitive damages that are intended to punish the wrongdoer – rather than to compensate the survivors – may also be awarded.
A note about winning
In wrongful death cases, nobody wins. You’ve lost a beloved family member, and no amount of compensation can alter this fact. Your case can, however, prevail, which means that you will be awarded the compensation to which you are entitled, and having professional legal counsel on your side can make a significant difference in your ability to do so.
An Experienced South Carolina Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help
If someone else’s negligence causes you to lose a loved one, you’re facing challenging obstacles that can prove emotionally and financially overwhelming. Our team at Trey Harrell Auto Accident and Personal Injury Attorney in South Carolina is a compassionate wrongful death lawyer serving Charleston, and we recognize the depth of your loss. We have the experience, drive, and insight to help.
Consider contacting or calling us at 843-636-8739 for more information about what we can do to help you today.
Wrongful Death Case FAQs
Can I file the wrongful death case on my own?
Your rights will be far better protected – and your chances of obtaining rightful compensation will be considerably improved – if you have the professional legal guidance of a seasoned wrongful death attorney on your side.
How can I afford a wrongful death attorney?
The financial losses associated with a loved one’s wrongful death can compound the emotional losses you suffer, which can make the additional expense of hiring a wrongful death attorney seem completely out of reach. However, most reputable wrongful death attorneys work on contingency, which means they don’t get paid until your case is settled or you receive a court award.
How long do I have to file a wrongful death case?
In South Carolina, you have three years from the date of your loved one’s death to file a wrongful death lawsuit.