In South Carolina, wrongful death is the death of any person caused by negligence, recklessness, or the intentional or criminal acts of another person or entity. Wrongful death laws differ from nonfatal personal injury laws, so if a wrongful death of a loved one has affected you, finding a lawyer experienced in the field is pertinent. The Charleston wrongful death attorneys at HawkLaw have extensive trial experience in civil and criminal courts throughout South Carolina.
How Do I Establish Grounds for a Wrongful Death Suit?
Both civil and criminal courts try cases of wrongful death, depending on the situation. The South Carolina statute of limitations in wrongful death cases is three years from the time of death. If a criminal action causes a wrongful death, a criminal court would try the case. During this time, one can pursue a civil case before, during, or after the criminal case. If the wrongful death case is not criminal in nature, a civil lawsuit would consider it.
There are many different circumstances that can warrant a wrongful death claim. The courts can hold accountable any individual, company, or public entity that contributes or causes the death of an individual. Whether the death was accidental or caused by unnatural circumstances, there can be legal grounds for a wrongful death suit. Grounds for lawsuit in South Carolina are based upon the following:
• Drunk driving
• Nursing home abuse or neglect
• Medical malpractice
• Prescription drug deaths
• Foodborne illness
• Improper building construction
• Defective products
• Deaths related to medical devices
• Unlawful or criminal acts
Possible Damage Recovery in Wrongful Death Suits
In South Carolina, the deceased individual’s spouse, children, parents, or estate administrator can pursue wrongful death suits. Other relatives (siblings, uncles, aunts, and grandparents) have no legal right to join the case.
Damages for wrongful death cases must be related directly to the deceased individual’s injury and death. Throughout SC, there are three categories of damages to seek for fatalities: full value of life, funeral and medical costs, and pain and suffering between the time of injury and death.
Full Value of Life
Full value of life is the sum of the economic and noneconomic elements of the victim’s life. A court can award economic damages for the victim’s future earnings, which would have occurred over his or her normal life expectancy. Noneconomic components include intangible losses such as having children, companionship in marriage, and other aspects of life that the victim will miss. South Carolina state law does not cap the amount a victim’s family can receive for these two elements.
Can I get Compensation for Funeral and Medical Expenses?
A wrongful death lawsuit can recover expenses incurred from the victim’s medical and funeral costs. These expenses are not related to the full value of life damages. Claiming these expenses in court is only possible when brought forth by the executor or administrator of the victim’s estate.
Pain and Injury Between Injury and Time of Death
If the death of the victim did not occur immediately after injury, the law allows for damages to be claimed during the period between injury and death. Damages include pain and suffering, medical expenses, and lost wages. A personal injury claim, separate from the wrongful death claim would consider these damages.
HawkLaw Can Help with Your Loved One’s Wrongful Death Case
If you are the surviving relative of an individual who was the victim in a wrongful death, contact us immediately for help. Wrongful death statutes are complex, and the process can be difficult to understand. We have handled more than 1,000 cases involving personal injury, motor vehicle accidents, and wrongful death claims. Our experience in both civil and criminal trials will ensure that we handle your case thoroughly, respectfully, and compassionately. Our team will focus on results, while you focus on healing. Call us in Mount Pleasant today at (843) 737-9356 or toll-free at (888) HAWK-LAW.