Unexpectedly losing a loved one due to an accident is traumatic enough, but trying to figure out how to cover funeral and burial expenses can be overwhelming. If your loved one passed away due to someone else’s negligence, you may have the right to bring a Myrtle Beach wrongful death claim against them. Retaining a knowledgeable Myrtle Beach wrongful death attorney can help you decipher the legal process and understand your legal rights.
What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Wrongful death is the term given to someone who is killed due to someone else’s negligence or misconduct. It is not limited to only civil matters, but can include criminal acts like manslaughter. Certain family members of the deceased have a legal right to bring a wrongful death claim against the at-fault party. Because it is a civil suit, it can be filed against the at-fault party whether or not they are convicted of a crime or just acted negligently, like with distracted driving.
Grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit can include:
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Defective products
- Criminal or other unlawful acts
- Nursing home neglect or abuse
- Prescription drug deaths
- Vehicle accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Truck accidents
- Boating accidents
- Premises liability, dog bites, slip and falls, etc.
Successfully Pursuing a Wrongful Death Claim in South Carolina
In order to have a successful wrongful death action, you must show that the defendant’s behavior was the cause of your family member’s death. There is no requirement to show malice of intention to kill or injure the deceased.
S.C. Code Ann. §§15-51-10 through 60 discusses who has the legal right to bring a Myrtle Beach wrongful death claim. Only the estate’s executor can bring this type of claim. Any damage award is typically split between the spouse, children, and any other heirs according to what they would have been entitled to if the person died intestate, or without a will.
Recoverable Damages in a Wrongful Death Suit
Wrongful death lawsuits allow for recovery of certain types of damages. They are designed to compensate the family for their financial and emotional costs. Damages include:
- Funeral and burial costs
- Medical bills
- Loss of benefits
- Loss of earnings, including future wages
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship or support
- Punitive damages (in some instances for intentional, wanton, willful, or reckless conduct)
A survival action is essentially the deceased’s claim rather than a claim for the losses incurred by the family. If the deceased lived for any length of time after the accident, a survival action would be for the damages that the deceased would have been entitled to had he or she not passed away. These include emotional distress, pain and suffering, and medical expenses. Funeral expenses may also be recovered if not already collected through a wrongful death suit, but that is the only post-death expense eligible for a survival action claim.
Has Your Loved One Died To The Negligence Of Others?
If you're loved one has died due someone else's negligence you should speak to a wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Charleston, South Carolina office directly at 843.488.2359 to schedule your consultation. We are also able to meet clients at our Conway, Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Mt. Pleasant, North Myrtle Beach or North Charleston office locations.