Losing a loved one is devastating. Losing a loved one knowing that it could have been prevented altogether makes healing even more difficult. As South Carolina wrongful death lawyers, we’ve seen firsthand the impact that sudden loss has on families, and we are dedicated to ensuring our clients get the justice, support, resources, and guidance they need throughout the legal process and beyond. This article will discuss the differences between wrongful death lawsuits and survival actions, two common legal actions that follow the wrongful death of a loved one.

Devastatingly, fatal accidents are not uncommon in South Carolina. In fact, South Carolina consistently ranks amongst the top US states for the percentage of accidents resulting in fatalities. With decades of experience handling these claims on behalf of victim’s families, it is our goal to help educate families on your rights following a tragic loss, ensuring you get the help, support, and compensation you’re entitled to under state law.

What Is the Legal Definition of Wrongful Death?

South Carolina law (S.C. Code 15-51-10) explains that wrongful death occurs when a death is caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another person.

How Do You Prove a Wrongful Death Occurred?

South Carolina has a “duty of care” standard for all residents and visitors. Our experienced wrongful death lawyers will get to know you and your loved ones and the details of the accident to prove that the at-fault party breached this duty of care. We will need to prove that:

  1. The defendant owed your loved one a duty of care
  2. The defendant breached that duty, also known as negligence, and
  3. The defendant’s breach of that duty, or negligence, directly caused the death

An example of a “duty of care” is that all drivers on SC roads have a duty to remain focused on the road and obey all traffic laws. When a driver fails to do so, they are acting negligently.

With decades of experience representing families in wrongful death claims, we understand how emotional and draining these lawsuits can be. Our team will work hard and make this process easier on you. We will fight aggressively to get you justice so that you and your loved ones can focus on recovering. If you have any questions or would like to know if you qualify to file a wrongful death claim for the loss of a loved one, we are here to help. Simply give our office a call at (803) 888-2200.

Accidents That May Lead to Wrongful Death

There are many types of accidents that can result in wrongful death. Some of the most common accidents leading to fatalities include:

  • Car Accidents
  • Truck Accidents
  • Motorcycle Accidents
  • Pedestrian Accidents
  • Workplace Accidents
  • Slip and Falls
  • Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Typically, the executor or administrator of the deceased’s estate will bring the wrongful death claim in court on behalf of the deceased’s loved ones. This person is usually listed on the decedent’s estate plan. If the person passed before creating an estate plan, then the court can appoint an administrator.

What Damages Can You Seek Compensation For in a Wrongful Death Claim?

It’s impossible to put a monetary value on a life. While we wish we could take away your pain, we take pride in getting our clients the justice they deserve, as well as the entirety of the compensation they’re owed under South Carolina law. Depending on the specifics of your case, you may qualify to receive compensation for:

  • Funeral Expenses
  • Burial Expenses
  • Medical Expenses
  • Lost Wages and Benefits
  • Property Damage
  • Other Financial Losses Related to the Loss of Life
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Loss of Support
  • Loss of Companionship
  • Punitive Damages
  • And More.

Who Receives the Compensation Secured After a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

South Carolina Code 15-51-20 lays out who the beneficiaries of a wrongful death action are and the priority of the beneficiaries. Any recovery in a wrongful death action is for the benefit of the deceased’s spouse and children. If the deceased was unmarried and did not have children, the recovery is for the benefit of the deceased’s parents. If the deceased does not have a living spouse, children, or parents, the recovery goes to the deceased’s remaining heirs pursuant to South Carolina’s Intestate Succession Statute (S.C. Code 62-2-103).

What is a Survival Action?

According to South Carolina law (S.C. Code 15-9-90) a survival action, also known as a survivorship claim, allows a person who has been injured but doesn’t immediately pass to recover damages sustained during the time between the accident and passing.

A survival action is separate from a wrongful death claim, and it provides reimbursement for the losses the decedent suffered between their injury and death.

For example, if an individual was critically injured in a car accident and passed from those injuries a week later, their family may be entitled to receive compensation for the damages the decedent suffered during that week.

Who Can File a Survival Lawsuit?

Like wrongful death claims, a survival action lawsuit is filed by the decedent’s estate executor or administrator. This can only be filed if the decedent did not die immediately from their injuries.

Damages Recoverable in a Survivorship Claim

Unlike wrongful death claims that are designed to compensate the loved ones of the deceased for the damages that they have sustained as a result of their loss, survival actions are intended to compensate the deceased for the damages he/she suffered between the accident and passing. This can include seeking compensation for:

  • Emotional Distress
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Medical Expenses
  • Funeral Expenses (Typically sought in the wrongful death claim)

Who Receives the Compensation Secured From a Survival Action Claim?

Because a survival claim is for the benefit of the deceased for injuries sustained prior to death, proceeds of a survival action are paid into the deceased’s estate.  Therefore, if the deceased died with a will, any proceeds will be distributed in accordance with the deceased’s will.  If the deceased died without a will, proceeds are distributed to the deceased’s heirs in accordance with the South Carolina  Intestate Succession Statute (S.C. Code 62-2-103).

Contact Our Experienced South Carolina Wrongful Death and Survival Claims Lawyers

If you’re looking for a lawyer for a wrongful death or survival action lawsuit in South Carolina or have any questions, we are here to help. We will guide you through each step of this process, ensuring that you and your loved ones are in good hands and taken care of. Let us handle the legal aspects of your case so you and your loved ones can put your time and energy into healing and moving forward.

For your convenience, our team is available via phone 24/7 at (803) 888-2200. We have offices located in Columbia and Mount Pleasant. However, we represent clients and travel throughout the state of South Carolina. To get started on your road to justice, simply give our team a call at (803) 888-2200 or complete our online form today and a compassionate member of our team will be in touch with you shortly.