Losing a loved one is difficult – especially if someone else may have caused their death. If you are a close family member, such as a spouse or child, you may be eligible for compensation pursuant to the state’s wrongful death statute. The state’s wrongful death law provides a civil remedy to the relatives of someone whose death was caused by the negligent or intentional conduct of another party.
You are strongly encouraged to contact a Lexington wrongful death lawyer for help determining whether you might be eligible for compensation following the untimely passing of a parent, spouse, or another close relative. A personal injury attorney could be available to review the circumstances of your claim and discuss possible next steps. A lawyer could also look into the possibility of pursuing a survival action, described in more detail below.
Possible Compensation in a Wrongful Death Claim
S.C. CODE § 15-51-01 authorizes a civil action for damages in the event that someone dies due to the “wrongful act, neglect, or default of another.” The party who caused the death could be held liable for damages – that is, they could be required to pay money to the deceased’s family member as a means of compensating them for their emotional and economic losses. An individual, company, or public entity could be held liable in a wrongful death case if it could be shown that they caused or contributed to the death of the deceased individual.
A wrongful death attorney in Lexington may be able to obtain the following types of damages on behalf of those surviving family members who are defined by state statute as being eligible for compensation:
Full Value of Life
This category encompasses both the economic and non-economic elements of the deceased’s life. Economic damages typically take the form of loss of future earnings, while non-economic damages could include the loss of care, protection, and companionship.
Medical & Funeral Costs
While representing one or more close family members in a wrongful death lawsuit, a wrongful death attorney serving the Lexington area may attempt to recover expenses related to the deceased’s medical care and funeral. Such expenses are usually easily verifiable through the introduction of medical bills and other documentation.
In rare cases, punitive damages could be obtained, but only if the defendant’s conduct was reckless or malicious in nature. Punitive damages are not intended to compensate surviving family members but rather to punish the at-fault party and deter others from engaging in similar behavior.
Depending on the circumstances, a Lexington wrongful death lawyer could choose to initiate a survival action at the same time as a claim for wrongful death. The state’s survival action statute – S.C. CODE § 15-5-90 – authorizes compensation for the pain and emotional distress that the deceased individual experienced from the time they were injured up until their death. Per this statute, the deceased’s estate could recover damages for:
- Medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Funeral expenses (but only if not recovered in the wrongful death claim)
Just as with the proceeds of a wrongful death claim, the proceeds of a survival action are divided among the deceased’s spouse, children, parents, or other surviving heirs as specified by state statute.
Speak with a Lexington Wrongful Death Attorney Today
Filing a claim for wrongful death in South Carolina is a complicated matter that generally must be handled in probate court. Hiring a lawyer could help ensure that an appropriate executor or administrator is appointed who is authorized by state statute to bring a wrongful death claim or survival action. Contact a Lexington wrongful death lawyer today to learn how a lawyer could help guide you through the process and pursue the best settlement or judgment possible.