The unexpected loss of a cherished family member can be impossible to bear. Learning that their death could have been prevented if it were not for the negligent, reckless, or wrongful actions of another may enrage your family to the point where you are ready to take legal action against the at-fault party.
Fortunately, South Carolina’s wrongful death laws make it possible for you to demand justice. Connect with a compassionate Cayce personal injury lawyer at Shelly Leeke Law Firm for the legal guidance and support you need when you need it most.
A South Carolina personal injury attorney at our firm is here to help you navigate the claims process and ensure those responsible are held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. Contact our office for a free consultation today to learn more about how South Carolina wrongful death cases work and the steps you must take to get justice for your loved one.
About Wrongful Death Actions in Cayce
When another party is responsible for causing your family member’s death, you may initially believe the criminal justice system will ensure they are held accountable. However, wrongful death claims are different from criminal charges.
According to S.C. Code §15-51-10, when one party is responsible for the death of another due to any type of neglect, wrongful act, or default, they could be held accountable in civil court. You can think of a wrongful death action as a personal injury lawsuit the decedent would have filed if they had not succumbed to their injuries. As you navigate the wrongful death claims process, there are several stipulations and nuances you should consider.
The Statute of Limitations
In every state, lawsuits must be filed before the legal deadline. This is commonly referred to as the “statute of limitations.” Under S.C. Code §15-3-530(6), the wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within three years of the decedent’s death.
Unfortunately, if your legal action is not filed before time runs out, the South Carolina civil court system will have no other choice but to deny you the right to have your case heard at trial.
Common Recoverable Damages
There are certain types of damages that the decedent’s surviving family members may be able to recover as part of the wrongful death verdict. Certain damages can be paid to the decedent’s estate to cover their funeral and burial costs and the medical expenses they incurred prior to their death.
Other types of damages will be paid to the decedent’s surviving family members. Examples of potentially recoverable damages include:
- Loss of the decedent’s financial support
- Loss of the decedent’s employee benefits
- The surviving family member’s pain and suffering
- The surviving family member’s emotional distress
- Loss of the decedent’s companionship, love, protection, support, care, and society
- Loss of the decedent’s judgment, advice, knowledge, guidance, and personal experience
Punitive damages may also be awarded in wrongful death claims. Your wrongful death attorney in Cayce, SC, will review the details of your case to determine whether exemplary damages are applicable to your case. These are not compensatory losses but rather a way for the civil court system to punish liable parties for reprehensible, intentionally malicious, or grossly negligent conduct.
The Right to Sue
You may be anxious to move forward with your wrongful death action. However, before you can do so, you need to make sure you have the authority to initiate a case. Under S.C. Code §15-51-20, only the decedent’s personal representative or executor of their estate has the right to file a wrongful death claim.
The decedent may have assigned an executor in their estate plans or will. However, if the decedent has not selected an executor, the South Carolina civil courts have the authority to name an executor of the estate.
Even though the decedent’s administrator will be responsible for filing the wrongful death lawsuit, that does not mean they collect all damages that are awarded. In fact, damages awarded in a wrongful death claim will go to the decedent’s surviving family. This may include:
- The decedent’s surviving children
- The decedent’s surviving spouse
- The decedent’s surviving parents
- Other relevant heirs
Wrongful Death Burden of Proof
Unlike criminal court, where the prosecutor will need to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, in civil court, your wrongful death lawyer will need to prove liability based on a preponderance of the evidence. This means the evidence presented at trial must convince the presiding judge and jury that the defendant is likely at fault for your loved one’s death.
Common Accidents Causing Fatal Injuries
Nearly any type of accident has the potential to result in a fatal injury. However, our wrongful death attorneys see certain types of accidents and incidents in wrongful death claims more often than others. These include
- Assault and homicide
- Motorcycle accidents
- Commercial truck accidents
- Car accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Defective product incidents
- Nursing home neglect and abuse
- Premises liabilities
- Construction accidents
- Work-related accidents
These are just a few examples of accidents that could cause deaths. If your loved one was killed in another type of incident not included in the list above, do not lose hope. Connect with a Cayce wrongful death attorney at Shelly Leeke Law Firm to explore your legal options further.
Contact a Compassionate Wrongful Death Lawyer in Cayce, SC, Today
Pursuing a wrongful death claim can be emotionally taxing when you are still struggling to cope with the loss of your treasured loved one. With help from a knowledgeable and experienced Cayce wrongful death lawyer at Shelly Leeke Law Firm, you can bring the at-fault party to justice and recover the financial compensation your family is entitled to receive.
Learn more about how wrongful death claims work and how you can make those responsible pay when you contact our team for a 100% free consultation. When you are ready to get started on your case but do not know where to turn for help, fill out our quick contact form or call our office for answers.