When a person dies due to someone else’s careless or negligent actions, the impact upon surviving family members is overwhelming. There are funeral services, burial arrangements, and final affairs to handle, all at a time when loved ones are still grieving. The financial implications are considerable, yet they may pale in comparison with the loss of the deceased’s support, love, and guidance.
South Carolina law does provide certain family members with rights under these circumstances, based upon wrongful death concepts. At Walker Morgan, our lawyers have experience fighting on behalf of those who have lost a loved one, helping clients recover compensation from the responsible party.
Protecting the Rights of Surviving Family Members
While legal action cannot a person back, state law allows family members to seek compensation for the devastating losses they suffer, financially and personally. South Carolina defines a wrongful death as one that’s caused by the misconduct of another person, either through negligence or intentional acts. Under the law, certain individuals may stand in decedent’s shoes to pursue a claim that’s similar to a personal injury matter. Because the decedent isn’t alive to pursue the claim, it must be done by:
- The executor of the deceased’s will, where he or she appointed one; OR,
- The administrator appointed by a court, where the decedent didn’t have a will.
A wrongful death case proceeds through the executor or administrator, but that person is pursuing the claim on behalf of the deceased’s surviving loved ones, who have experienced a horrendous loss. The people who have standing to recover compensation in a wrongful death case are:
- The surviving spouse and children of the victim;
- The parents who survive the decedent, if there is no spouse and no children; and,
- The descendants of the deceased person, if he or she didn’t have surviving parents, a spouse, or children.
Compensation After Losing a Loved One
For the losses they suffer, the surviving family members may recover several types of damages in a wrongful death case:
- The costs of funeral and burial services;
- Medical bills and costs for treatment rendered to the decedent for final illness;
- Lost wages and benefits;
- Property damage, if any;
- Loss of care, companionship, guidance, support, and experience; and,
- Emotional anguish.
Note that, if the person’s death was due to reckless or intentional actions, it’s possible to seek an additional amount for punitive damages. These damages are intended to punish the responsible party for his or her misconduct.
Speak with an Experienced Lexington Wrongful Death Lawyer
Wrongful death claims are complicated under South Carolina law, as these cases incorporate legal concepts that go beyond a typical personal injury case. To protect your rights as a surviving family member, it’s necessary to retain an attorney with knowledge in such areas as probate and estate administration. At Walker Morgan, our lawyers can help you through the difficult times that follow a loved one’s death, and assist your family in recovering the compensation you deserve. To schedule a free consultation, please visit us online or call our Lexington, SC office at 803-636-8790.