Under South Carolina law, a wrongful death claim arises where a person’s death was “caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another” and the deceased person would have been entitled to recover damages from the liable party if he or she had survived. A wrongful death claim allows the deceased victim’s surviving family members or estate executors to bring a claim for damages for the loss of their loved one.
Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Case in SC?
A wrongful death lawsuit must be filed by the personal representative of the deceased person, who functions as the executor or administrator of the deceased person’s estate. If the deceased person had a will at the time of their death, the executor or administrator may already be named. Otherwise, the Court may appoint one.
Once appointed, the executor or administrator can file a wrongful death lawsuit to recover damages on behalf of the deceased’s beneficiaries. Beneficiaries of a wrongful death claim are limited to specific relatives, who become eligible in successive order.
- The first tier of eligibility is the spouse or child/children of the deceased person. If the deceased person has a surviving spouse or child/children, those parties may file a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf.
- The second tier of eligibility includes the parents of the deceased person. If the deceased person has no surviving spouse or children, then their parents may file a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf.
- The third tier of eligibility is any of the heirs of the deceased person. If the deceased person has no surviving parents, then any surviving heirs can file a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf.
How is the Value of a Wrongful Death Suit Calculated?
Generally, the damages available in a wrongful death lawsuit are those arguably incurred by the survivors. They can include the following:
- Medical expenses caused by the accident before the victim’s death
- Funeral and burial costs
- Loss of financial support and benefits
- Loss of household services
- Loss of companionship, love, and guidance
- Pain and suffering
- Punitive damages. In exceptional situations where the defendant (or party that was liable for the death of the victim) was especially reckless, willful, or malicious in causing the victim’s death, the Court may issue additional putative damages meant specifically to punish the defendant rather than to compensate the survivors for any specific cost.
What is the Statute of Limitations in SC for Filing a Wrongful Death Claim?
In general, you have 3 years to file suit against a non-governmental defendant. If a city, county or state agency is involved, you only have 2 years to file suit.
For more information on Wrongful Death Claims In South Carolina, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (843) 357-4111 today.
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