The sudden death of a loved one is a devastating experience. The effects of the physical and emotional pain, coupled with the financial loss, can truly turn a family upside down. Questions arise as to how a family will survive...particularly if the deceased was a breadwinner in the family. Holding the responsible party accountable is my number one priority. I have handled numerous cases involving death and understand the toll it takes on a family. I have experienced the pain personally. As a teenager, I lost my father in a motor vehicle accident as the result of a drunk driver. My step-mother was left partially paralyzed and I barely survived the accident. So, I understand the grief and sorrow involved with the loss of a loved one firsthand. I consider it a privilege and an honor to help others in a time of pain and vulnerability.Causes of Wrongful Death
South Carolina Code Section 15-51-10 allows a wrongful death claim to be brought when someone dies as the result of a wrongful or negligent act of another. The most common causes of wrongful death stem from personal injuries stemming from motor vehicle accidents, motorcycle accidents, medical malpractice, boating accidents, defective products and design and airplane accidents. There has been a recent trend of defective design and upkeep of porches, decks and railings. Such defects can lead to a collapse, resulting in the death of those on the surface at the time of the collapse.Who Can Make a Claim?
South Carolina Section 15-51-20 sets forth who can bring a claim for wrongful death. The statute sets for the priority for who can bring a claim. The priority is in line with who inherits cases where no will exists. The statute states the spouse and children are the first in priority. If no spouse or children are alive, the parents are next in line and if no parents are alive, then the next closest heir. The statute also indicates the action shall be brought in the name of the Personal Representative. This is ordinarily relatively simple but can be complicated when common law marriages are involved or when relatives are not able to be located.What can be Sought in a Wrongful Death Claim
The beneficiaries may make a claim for loss of support or earnings, mental suffering and shock, loss of companionship, grief, for pain your loved one experienced prior to their death, medical experiences and reasonable funeral expenses. In order to recover these damages, it may require employing expert witnesses, particularly in cases involving loss of income and earnings. This involves projecting the life expectancy and the projected earnings. The reality is that it is impossible to assign a value to a human life and no dollar amount will either bring back or replace the loss of a loved one. Recovering monetary damages is, unfortunately, the best remedy available.Probate Process and Approval of Wrongful Death Settlements
Due to the loss of life, the probate court is involved with the entire wrongful death process. An estate must be opened and notice must be given to creditors, among other requirements. Additionally, wrongful death settlements must be approved by the court to ensure the appropriate beneficiaries are the recipients. The entire process of a wrongful death claim is complicated and an attorney is absolutely essential to ensuring the appropriate steps are taken. As a Myrtle Beach wrongful death attorney for over 11 years, I am available to help you in your time of need. Feel free to call me on my cell at (843) 999-2907.