Losing a loved one is heartbreaking when it’s from an accident that could have been avoided. If that accident is caused by someone else’s negligence or reckless behavior, it can be considered a wrongful death.
When a wrongful death accident happens in Charleston to someone in your family, you deserve to seek compensation. It’s the mission of Trey Harrell Auto Accident and Personal Injury Attorney to make sure you have the opportunity to get justice for your case. Call our Charleston wrongful death attorney at 843-710-8029 to find out how we can help you.
What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil case as opposed to a criminal case. It involves close family members taking legal action against the party whose negligent or reckless actions caused the decedent’s death. It allows family members to be compensated for the losses they suffered as a result of the victim’s death.
What are Common Causes of Wrongful Deaths in Charleston?
Common causes of wrongful death include the following:
- Road accidents: There are several types of fatal accidents that can occur on the road including pedestrian accidents, bicycle accidents, motorcycle accidents, truck accidents and more.
- Slip and falls: If a slip and fall occurs on a person’s property due to improper maintenance, the owner may be responsible for a resulting death.
- Product defects: Defective products that can lead to death include power tools that don’t work as they should, improperly labeled medications, and household products that contain deadly chemicals. If there is no warning label to indicate risks, the manufacturer could be liable for damages.
- Medical malpractice: We expect doctors to take care of our health. But sometimes they act in a neglectful manner and do more harm than good. If a procedure ultimately results in death, a family can pursue damages through the provider’s insurance.
- Nursing home abuse and neglect: The elderly are often neglected or abused in nursing homes. If a wrongful death in a nursing home occurs, the business owner or staff may be at fault.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Charleston?
A wrongful death lawsuit can be brought by close family members who relied on the deceased for financial and emotional support. These include, in order of priority:
- The deceased’s spouse
- If the deceased was not married at the time of death, their children may file.
- If the deceased was not married and did not have any children, their parents may bring the claim.
- If the deceased did not have a living spouse, parents, or children, another relative that relied on the victim for support may file.
The family member bringing the case will be represented by the executor or administrator of the estate as listed in the decedent’s will. If no administrator or executor is named, they will be appointed by the court.
What Kind of Damages Can You Claim in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
The damages you can claim in a wrongful death lawsuit are as follows:
- Medical expenses: This includes any costs incurred for medical care immediately after the accident as well as ongoing care for the injuries administered prior to the patient’s death.
- Lost wages/income: Damages will cover the family’s loss of income due to the deceased no longer being around to make financial contributions.
- Compensation for services: The deceased may have provided an important service to the family such as caring for a child or an older relative, mowing the lawn, etc. If the family now has to pay someone to cover those responsibilities, compensation will be required.
- Emotional pain and suffering: Family members are likely to have counted on the deceased for emotional support. It is difficult to come up with a monetary amount to make up for this type of loss, but your lawyer will determine an amount that is fair. Damages may also cover the cost of mental health services in coping with the loss.
- Funeral and burial expenses: Compensation may be applied to the family’s funeral and burial expenses.
Is Shared Fault Considered in Wrongful Death Cases?
Families may be looking at collecting considerable compensation for a wrongful death lawsuit, but that amount will be reduced if shared fault comes into play.
Shared fault considers that the victim may have been partially responsible for the accident.
The jury will hear the case and determine a percentage for how ‘at-fault’ the victim was for their accident, and recoverable damages will be reduced by that amount.
In some states, shared fault means you can’t collect damages if you are 50% or more responsible for an accident. In South Carolina, families can collect damages no matter how much of an accident is deemed to be the fault of their loved one.
What Is the Difference Between a Wrongful Death Claim and a Survival Action?
Wrongful death claims are brought by surviving family members and are based on economic and general damages they have suffered and will continue to suffer because of the death. They require proof that the defendant’s negligent actions were the cause of their loved one’s death.
Survival actions allow the deceased’s estate to collect damages for the pain and suffering the victim experienced due to their injuries prior to death. Damages include medical expenses and emotional pain and suffering.
Depending on the circumstances of the death, the family may be able to bring a survival action lawsuit when they file a wrongful death claim. The family members will only be eligible to file a survival action lawsuit if the deceased survived for some amount of time after being injured.
What Is the South Carolina Statute of Limitations on a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Every lawsuit comes with a statute of limitations. This means that victims will have a certain amount of time to file if they want to be compensated for their losses.
In South Carolina, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death accident is three years, and the clock starts ticking on the date the accident occurred. Three years may seem like a long time, but it’s best to act sooner rather than later.
If you wait too long after an accident occurs, the details will start to get hazy. This will make it difficult to gather evidence and witness testimonies. The best course of action is to call your Charleston wrongful death attorney and start building your case right away.
Who Pays a Wrongful Death Claim?
The person responsible for damages varies from case to case. In some instances, like car accidents and medical malpractice, insurance may cover the cost. In other situations, a business will be responsible.
In some cases, you may be unable to claim damages. For example, if the cause of death was an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist, you may be unable to collect full compensation or any compensation at all.
How Long Will My Wrongful Death Lawsuit Take?
There is no definite answer to the question how long a wrongful death case takes to complete. Your Charleston wrongful death accident attorney will do all they can to see to it that your case is resolved promptly. There are circumstances that can hold things up.
For example, it’s not uncommon to see delays during the discovery process. This involves gathering evidence from expert witnesses and other parties. The lawyer must wait for them to provide him or her with the relevant information before proceeding with the case.
Other delays can occur in the negotiating process. In a lawsuit, most parties will want to settle out of court as it’s a less time and money consuming option. However, it can take a while for both parties to arrive at a solution they are both happy with.
If the parties are unable to settle, the case may go to court. This will involve waiting for a court date and going through the motions of testifying and waiting for a jury decision.
A Charleston Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help You Win Your Lawsuit
A wrongful death results in extensive damages. You need a reliable Charleston-area lawyer by your side. Trey Harrell Auto Accident and Personal Injury Attorney can help you get the compensation you deserve.
Our team is known for providing clients with a high level of individualized care. We will fight relentlessly to see to it that you get a positive outcome. We won’t see a dime unless we help you win your case.
If you lost a loved one due to someone else’s neglectful or reckless behavior — don’t delay, call Trey today.