Wrongful death is when a person’s death is caused by the reckless or careless acts of others. Examples include death resulting from a drunk driver, malfunction of a defective product, defective construction of a structure or building, and failure to diagnose a fatal medical condition. The basis for most wrongful death suits is negligence. A wrongful death lawyer is required to show that the wrongdoer’s action, or failure to act in a responsible manner, caused the decedent’s death.
Survivors of wrongful death victims are frequently left with unpaid medical expenses and funeral costs, paired with the loss of financial and emotional support from their deceased relative. Under South Carolina law, surviving family members are allowed to bring a wrongful death claim against the at-fault party for compensation of their losses.
Wrongful Death Lawsuits in South Carolina
South Carolina created a cause of action for wrongful death in S.C. Code Ann. § 15-51-10. This statute allows a wrongful death claim to proceed where a person’s death was “caused by the wrongful act, neglect or default of another,” and the deceased person would have been entitled to recover damages from the wrongdoer if he or she had survived. South Carolina’s wrongful death statute allows an action to be brought on behalf of the deceased’s spouse, children, parents, or heirs.
Many types of fatal accidents can be the source of a South Carolina wrongful death lawsuit, including:
- Auto, motorcycle, and truck accidents
- Defective products
- Medical malpractice
- Nursing home negligence
Damages Available Under a South Carolina Wrongful Death Action
Significant differences exist between the types of damages available under a South Carolina wrongful death action as compared to a personal injury lawsuit. There are also limitations if the alleged wrongdoer is a governmental entity or government involvement. Generally, the damages available in a wrongful death lawsuit are those incurred by the survivors and can include the following:
- Medical expenses for the deceased’s treatment
- Funeral and burial costs
- Loss of financial support and benefits
- Loss of household services
- Loss of companionship, love and guidance
- Pain and suffering
Some states permit the recovery of punitive damages in cases of reckless, willful or malicious wrongdoing that caused the death. Punitive damages are intended to punish the wrongdoer and deter others from behaving similarly. In South Carolina, “punitive damages may be awarded only upon a finding of actual damages.” Generally, intentional or willful behavior is more likely to lead to punitive damages.
Consult with the Axelrod Team
In light of the statute of limitations (deadlines by which a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed), it is important to contact an experienced wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible. The experienced lawyers at Axelrod & Associates represent families of wrongful death victims with compassion. If you have lost a loved one in a manner caused by someone else’s negligent actions, our wrongful death lawyers will work to get the money and benefits that you and your family are entitled to.
For a FREE consultation with a Myrtle Beach wrongful death lawyer, call us at (843) 916-9300 or fill out our contact form.