Family members have little time to grieve after a loved one is suddenly taken away. Survivors are expected to handle funeral arrangements, outstanding debts, and legal processes all while they are trying to accept and reconcile the death of someone close to them. To make matters worse, spouses and children are left without the comfort of their relative and are forced to survive without the income that he or she provided.
In some cases, families can take action for the loss of a family member by filing a wrongful death claim. These actions not only help ease the financial burden on survivors, but provide justice and closure by holding an entity legally responsible for causing the deceased’s untimely death. If you have questions about filing a wrongful death claim, call the number on this page today to speak with an attorney in your free consultation.
Who Can Be Held Liable for a Wrongful Death in South Carolina?
A wrongful death claim is a civil action brought by the surviving family members on behalf of the deceased. Survivors can bring these claims as long as the neglect or willful wrongdoing of another directly led to the family member’s injury. Common parties in wrongful death cases include:
- Individuals. A driver may be held liable for the death of a person killed in a car accident or motorcycle crash, while individuals can be held accountable for child injuries, violent acts, or dangerous conditions on their property.
- Hospitals. Deaths that occur under hospital or nursing home care should be thoroughly investigated to see if the death was due to medical malpractice, procedural errors, mistakes during surgery, drug dosage errors, or other mistakes that can threaten future patients.
- Companies. Manufacturers and designers of defective products can be held accountable for any injuries their products cause. Companies that make and sell household goods, appliances, medical devices, children’s toys, and many other items can be forced to discontinue and recall their products after a fatal injury.
Types of Damages Available After a Wrongful Death
In order to be successful, a wrongful death claim must prove that the company or individual’s negligence was the likely cause of death. In South Carolina, these claims must be filed within three years of the date of the deceased person's death, and can only be brought by the deceased’s surviving spouse, children, parents, or legal heirs.
A successful case can have significant benefits for the family. First, the at-fault party may be court-ordered to make changes to prevent the accident or injury from happening to someone else. Second, the family can be awarded many different types of damages to compensate them for a variety of losses, including:
- Economic losses. Companies and at-fault parties may be ordered to pay the costs of the deceased’s funeral and burial expenses, medical bills from the injury, lost wages due to the injury, and other economic losses related to the injury that resulted in death.
- Personal losses. The law allows families to collect damages for the loss of consortium, or the loss of care, comfort, companionship, protection, or advice that the family member would have given to relatives if he or she had lived.
- Pain and suffering. In many cases, family members can receive damages for unnecessary grief, sorrow, and mental anguish the death has caused.
- Conscious suffering of the deceased. If there was a significant amount of time between an injury and death, families may have grounds for a survival action. These recoveries are similar to wrongful death claims, but are specifically designed to pay for costs of the deceased’s conscious suffering between the time of the accident and the time of death.
- Exemplary damages. If an individual or company engaged in reckless or extremely negligent behavior, families may also receive exemplary (or punitive) damages. These damages are paid in an amount set by the court to punish the at-fault party, and are awarded in addition to all other types of damages.
After a death in the family, it is vital that you have the time you need to recover emotionally and mentally from the loss. At the Law Office of Jared C. Williams, LLC, we can answer any questions you may have and take over the business side of your case to give you the peace you need to move on. Fill out our quick contact form today to set up your free consultation in our Charleston, SC office or have us visit you at your home.