A wrongful death is a painful and stressful experience. It can be even more stressful if the deceased’s relatives are left arguing about who is owed damages for the death. Fortunately, there are South Carolina laws in place that dictate who should be getting what following a wrongful death award.
Trey Harrell Auto Accident and Personal Injury Attorney has extensive experience with wrongful death claims. We can help determine how the money will be divided after a wrongful death claim.
Contact us at 843-701-8029 to find out if you are owed compensation.
Who is Entitled for Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Anyone who relied on the deceased for financial support can be entitled to damages in a wrongful death lawsuit. However, certain relatives will get priority over others. Here’s how it works.
- Spouses: Spouses may recover damages for the loss of financial and emotional support and for emotional pain and suffering. If there is a surviving spouse, damages will be rewarded to them first.
- Minor children: Minor children under 25 may recoup damages for a loss of parental companionship, financial support and emotional pain and suffering. They will be considered alongside the spouse as first in line to receive damages.
- Adult children: If there is no living spouse or minor children, adult children over 25 may be compensated for the loss of parental companionship and guidance and for emotional pain and suffering. The only exception is if the death was caused by medical malpractice.
- Parents of deceased minor children: If the victim was a minor child, the parents will be first in line to collect the money.
- Legal dependents: If the deceased had no children or living spouse, legal dependents who counted on the victim for financial support may recover damages.
Can Adopted Children Be Wrongful Death Beneficiaries in South Carolina?
Yes, adopted children can be beneficiaries of a wrongful death lawsuit. There is no requirement for a beneficiary to be related to the victim by blood to receive compensation.
However, the child must have been legally adopted. If they were not legally adopted and are not natural born, they may not be able to collect compensation.
Are There Any Relatives That are Not Entitled to Damages?
Yes, there are certain relatives that would not be entitled to damages unless they were financially dependent on the victim. They include:
- Other blood relatives
Who Takes Over the Wrongful Death Claim If a Beneficiary Dies?
If a primary beneficiary dies before a decision is reached in the lawsuit, the claim will not be taken over by the second beneficiaries.
If there is no other beneficiary, the case will die with the beneficiary and the at-fault party may never be held accountable for the negligent or reckless conduct that led to the death.
Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in South Carolina?
A wrongful death lawsuit is brought by the personal representative of the person’s estate. That person is often named in the deceased’s will. If a personal representative is not named in the will, the court may appoint someone.
What Happens if There are Disagreements Between Beneficiaries and the Personal Representative?
Sometimes there is hostility between beneficiaries and the personal representative that causes them to argue over who gets what. However, each beneficiary is protected by South Carolina law. Furthermore, it’s the attorney’s job to protect the estate, not the personal representative.
This means that the lawyer will be assisting so that each beneficiary can state their losses and receive compensation. A Charleston wrongful death attorney can also guide you how to present compelling testimony and strengthen your wrongful death case.
How Are Damages Distributed Among Beneficiaries?
Most wrongful death lawsuits are settled before they go to trial. A settlement is typically less than the reward you might get in court. But plaintiffs often agree to the settlement because it is less stressful and time consuming, and it eliminates the risk of them losing their case.
When a settlement occurs, the defendant will pay the beneficiaries a lump sum. The attorney will then subtract their fees, costs, and medical liens from the sum. The balance will be split among the beneficiaries.
If the beneficiaries are unable to agree on how the money should be split, a hearing will be held to decide how to distribute the damages.
Consult With a Wrongful Death Attorney About Your Case
Wrongful death claims can get ugly. Your wrongful death attorney will make sure you get the compensation you deserve. They will see to it that the process goes as smoothly as possible.
If you are looking for an experienced Charleston wrongful death attorney for your claim, choose Trey Harrell Auto Accident and Personal Injury Attorney. Our team exemplifies care and compassion, and the dedication to achieve a favorable result.
Don’t delay in getting covered for your damages — call Trey!