Orangeburg Wrongful Death Lawyer
Losing a loved one is a tragedy that no individual or family should ever have to experience. But when a family member’s death is caused by someone else’s recklessness, the grieving and recovery process can be even more painful. Not only has your family been suddenly deprived of someone near and dear to your hearts, but you may also be struggling to pay for medical bills, funeral costs, and other losses. If your relative happened to be a primary breadwinner, these types of financial concerns can only compound your grief. No one should face this difficult time alone.
In South Carolina, surviving family members have the right to file a wrongful death claim if another person’s negligence contributed to their loss. While no lawsuit or settlement could ever make up for the person you lost, a wrongful death claim can help ensure that you and your family don’t struggle financially in the wake of your loved one’s passing. Holding the at-fault party accountable for their actions can also help families gain a measure of closure.
The compassionate attorneys at Wilson Law Group, LLC have helped families in Orangeburg and throughout South Carolina overcome the hardships incurred when a family member is lost in an accident. You can count on us to take aggressive action on your behalf so the at-fault party is held accountable for his or her negligence.
Call or contact us for a free consultation.
What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?
Per the South Carolina Code of Laws, survivors of wrongful death accident victims can pursue two different types of related legal claims. The first is called a wrongful death action, which is designed to compensate family members and beneficiaries for their losses.
A wrongful death is defined as a death caused by the neglectful or wrongful acts of another party. These wrongful acts are often similar to what is seen in personal injury claims. The main difference between wrongful death and personal injury claims is that in cases of wrongful death, the injured party is no longer able to file a claim on his or her own.
The second kind of legal claim is known as a survival action. A survival action is a special kind of personal injury claim that provides compensation for cases in which the injured party suffered significant damages between the time of the accident and his or her death. While wrongful death claims are intended to reimburse surviving family members for their losses, survival actions provide compensation for the suffering of the recently deceased.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Orangeburg, S.C.?
South Carolina law allows the executor or administrator of a deceased party’s estate to bring wrongful death actions to court. If your loved one did not leave behind a will or estate plan naming an executor, the state may appoint one on his or her behalf.
Even though the executors or administrators file wrongful death lawsuits, the claims are actually pursued for the benefit of surviving family members or beneficiaries of the deceased. In a wrongful death case, the following family members are eligible to recover damages:
- Surviving spouses and children
- Surviving parents, if there is no living spouse or child
- Lawful heirs, if there is no living parent, spouse, or child
If the events surrounding the death of your loved one provide grounds for a survival action, this type of claim must also be brought by a legal executor or administrator. In many cases, these two claim types are pursued simultaneously, and any survival damages recovered are also distributed to eligible family members or heirs.
How to Prove Wrongful Death
Wrongful death lawsuits often involve high stakes, which makes proving negligence especially complicated. In South Carolina, plaintiffs in wrongful death cases must prove that the deceased was fatally injured as a result of another party’s negligence. When you allege that another party is responsible for a fatal act, the burden of proof is substantial — and strong evidence is vital.
To recover compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit, you also must be able to show that immediate family members are qualified survivors of the fatally injured party and that those family members suffered real losses as a result of their loved one’s death.
Examples of evidence that an experienced wrongful death attorney can help you gather include:
- Physical, photographic, or video evidence
- Official accident reports
- Medical records and death certificates
- Testimony from eyewitnesses and expert witnesses
- Pay stubs, financial records, and other documents
- Responses to interrogatories and depositions
Accidents That Result in Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Almost any type of accident with the potential for fatal injuries can be considered grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit in South Carolina. In some cases, a wrongful death lawsuit may follow a criminal trial against the defendant, which may use much of the same evidence but typically imposes a higher standard of proof. Some common fatal accidents that result in wrongful death lawsuits are:
- Car accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Truck accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Defective product injuries
- Slip and fall incidents
- Medical malpractice
- Nursing home abuse or neglect
- Dog bites or animal attacks
If you lost a loved one in a fatal accident, talking to a wrongful death lawyer can help you determine whether you have a case and what your next steps should be.
What Types of Wrongful Death Compensation May Be Available?
A variety of damages can be paid in a successful wrongful death claim. Any monetary settlement you receive primarily serves to enable your family to continue living your lives without constant financial worries.
Ultimately, a wrongful death lawsuit is about more than money. Winning a wrongful death action can also offer your family well-deserved peace of mind that the party responsible for your loss is held fully liable for his or her wrongdoing.
Damages awarded to surviving family members or heirs in wrongful death cases may include:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical expenses incurred by the deceased
- Lost financial support and other benefits
- Related property damage and financial losses
- Lost household services and protection
- Lost love, companionship, and guidance
- Pain and suffering of surviving loved ones
- Punitive damages, meant to punish at-fault parties for particularly reckless or malicious conduct
Damages available in survival actions are different. Since survival actions are filed on behalf of a fatally injured party, no compensation is available in these cases for damages that occurred after his or her death. The one exception to this limitation is funeral expenses, unless compensation for these has already been awarded through a wrongful death action. Survival actions allow the estate of a wrongful death victim to recover damages for things like:
- Conscious pain and suffering of the fatally injured party
- Emotional distress of the deceased due to life-threatening injury
- Medical expenses for the treatment of the deceased’s fatal injuries
When to Contact a Lawyer
You should contact a wrongful death lawyer if a family member was killed in a fatal accident and you believe someone else is to blame.
When you bring a wrongful death action against an at-fault individual or organization, you will be filing a civil case as opposed to a criminal lawsuit. If your case succeeds in civil court, a favorable outcome will offer you monetary compensation and a sense of justice.
In a criminal lawsuit, successful cases often result in incarceration and other severe penalties for negligent parties — but no material redress for the victim’s family. At Wilson Law Group, LLC, we only represent Orangeburg clients in civil wrongful death claims.
In South Carolina, wrongful death actions must be filed within three years from the date of a victim’s death. If you file after the three years has passed, your case will likely be dismissed by the court.
How Can Wilson Law Group, LLC Help Me?
If you’re grieving the loss of a loved one in Orangeburg, you need a trusted wrongful death attorney on your side — one who truly cares about your future. At Wilson Law Group, LLC, our team will work relentlessly to relieve the pressures you’re facing and handle every aspect of your case, no matter how complex.
To schedule a free consultation, call or fill out our convenient online contact form today.