THE MCMILLIAN LAW FIRM
CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA WRONGFUL DEATH LAW FIRM
Any loss of a dear family member can cause anguish and pain, no matter the circumstances. That loss can be much more traumatic and devastating to a family if the death occurs unexpectedly due to the negligent or reckless acts of another individual. Furthermore, death can be all the more tragic when a family member dies unexpectedly. Under South Carolina law, if the death of a family member is caused by the negligent, reckless, or intentional acts of another person, then a legal claim for wrongful death may provide the family with recourse against the offending party. The family can seek money damages against the negligent party. This article will serve as a guide for survivor's to reference to understand the philosophy behind the wrongful death statutes, the process of pursuing wrongful death claims, and the damages available to families of victims.
SOUTH CAROLINA'S WRONGFUL DEATH STATUTE
South Carolina's Wrongful Death Statute can be found at South Carolina Code Ann. Section 15-51-10 through 15-51-60. South Carolina law states that a wrongful death claim arises on behalf of the deceased person's spouse or children when a family member has died due to the deliberate, reckless, or negligent acts or another. If there is no spouse or children, then the wrongful death claim can be brought for the benefit of the deceased person's parents. If there is no spouse, children or parents, then the wrongful death claim can be brought for the benefit of the deceased person's heirs (heirs are the people who can legally inherit property from the deceased).
The party causing the death is liable for damages. The wrongful death claim allows the surviving family to bring a claim for damages for the loss of their loved one.The party who caused the death of the beloved family member is potential liable for money damages to the surviving family. It is important to note that any potential criminal proceedings will usually be prosecuted concurrently by the State while the family and their private attorney are addressing the civil wrongful death claim. This will certainly be the case if you loved one has died due to an accident involving a drunk driver or an otherwise impaired driver of an automobile.
Unlike most civil lawsuits, there is one step that the surviving family members must complete prior to initiating any serious negotiation to settle or filing a law suit making a wrongful death claim. The family must determine who is eligible to bring a wrongful death claim. It can't be just any family member, acquaintance, or friend.
WHO CAN FILE A WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIM IN CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA?
The first step in any wrongful death claim is to have a Personal Representative appointed to act on behalf of the Estate of the deceased family member. This appointment is made by application to the Probate Court. The Probate Court will issue an Order of Appointment naming any person/persons named as the Representative on behalf of the deceased family member. This Appointment could be made in accordance with the named Personal Representative in the deceased family member's will. In cases with no will available, this application can be made by a family member directly to the court, usually by a spouse, a parent, a child, or a sibling of the deceased. A wrongful death lawsuit must be filed by the personal representative.
Considering the mobility and complexity of modern relationships, I feel it necessary to make the following distinctions. Wrongful death actions in South Carolina will only recognize the right of a spouse to bring a wrongful death action. Whether a relationship is same-sex or traditional, there must be a marital relationship established for standing to bring a wrongful death claim. Boyfriends and girlfriends, no matter how long you may have been together, will not have standing!
WHO GETS THE PROCEEDS OF A WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIM IN CHARLESTON, SC
A wrongful death claim allows survivors of the deceased party to obtain money damages as compensation to help offset the financial and emotional loss brought about from the loss of a loved one. Beneficiaries of a wrongful death claim will be prioritized (from first to last) as follows:
- The spouse of the deceased party and the children (if any) of the deceased party; then
- If there is no spouse or children, then the parent or parents; then
- If there are no parents, then the deceased's heirs.
WHAT IS PAYABLE AS DAMAGES IN A WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIM IN CHARLESTON, SC
It is a statement of the obvious, but there is no amount of money that can compensate a family for the loss of a loved one due to the negligence of another. However, under the law the only civil remedy that can be offered to a surviving family is money damages. Therefore, the primary concern of a wrongful death attorney such as myself is to identify each and every source of funds that can be available to compensate the survivors to the fullest extent possible. Examples of recoverable damages include:
- Medical bills and related expenses
- Loss of financial means / wage earning capacity
- Funeral / final expenses
- Loss of consortium, companionship and emotional support
- Emotional pain and grief, emotional suffering
WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON TYPES OF WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIMS IN CHARLESTON, SC
Any death of an individual that is caused by the negligence, recklessness, or intentional acts of another is considered a wrongful death. The most common types of wrongful death claims we encounter include:
- Motor vehicle accidents (cars, trucks, motorcycles)
- Workplace accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Medical accidents / malpractice
- Products liability (faulty products)
THE MCMILLIAN LAW FIRM, PROVIDING COMPASSIONATE REPRESENTATION FOR FAMILIES THAT HAVE BEEN VICTIMS OF A WRONGFUL DEATH
If a loved one has died as the result of the negligence, recklessness, or intentional acts of another person, please seek legal counsel immediately to help you navigate the time sensitive and procedural driven facets of a wrongful death claim. The McMillian Law Firm has experience in handling wrongful death claims and will do all that is necessary to help you and your family recover the maximum compensation possible. Please contact us to schedule your free consultation and case evaluation at our office located at 925 Wappoo Road, Suite D, in Charleston, South Carolina. We understand how difficult the unexpected loss of a loved one can be on a family and know that no amount of money can ever replace a lost family member. We are here to help you with your wrongful death claim and make sure that your family can receive all just compensation due under the law.