Filing any legal claim can feel a bit overwhelming. Many people have little experience with the law, and they are unsure where to begin. This can be especially true after the sudden death of a loved one. Surviving family members are already struggling to manage their shock and grief, and figuring out how to navigate a wrongful death claim can feel like a heavy burden.
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Understanding a Wrongful Death Claim

A wrongful death claim is a legal claim that is filed by surviving family members against the person or party responsible for their loved one’s death. These claims address the effect the sudden and unnecessary death has on family members. Many families decide to pursue a wrongful death claim for two main reasons—to seek justice for their loved one and compensation for the related losses they suffer. Through this type of action, it is possible to obtain compensation for:
Certain medical expenses
Lost income
Funeral expenses
Loss of companionship
Mental anguish

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim

In South Carolina, the only person who can bring a wrongful death claim is the personal representative of the estate. Additionally, it is important to consider the timing of a wrongful death claim. The personal representative must file a claim within three years, or the court will refuse to hear the case.

Understanding Liability in a Wrongful Death Claim

The state defines a wrongful death as “caused by the wrongful act, neglect or default of another.” Some common wrongful death claims result from traffic accidents and defective products. In these claims, it is necessary to prove a few specific elements, including: 

Duty Of Care 

A duty of care generally means that a person has a responsibility to act in a manner that promotes the safety of others and refrain from doing things that could pose a threat.

Breach Of Duty Of Care

It must be shown that the person at fault violated or ignored that duty by acting carelessly, neglectfully, or even in a willfully malicious manner.


Causation states that the breach of duty of care caused harm to come to another person. In a wrongful death claim, this breach ultimately leads to the death.


After proving the other elements, it is also necessary to show that the victim suffered damages. Clearly, a death is a serious loss, and family members experience various hardships, both personal and financial, when a loved one dies because of negligence.
While the law does not require that you hire an attorney for a wrongful death claim, an experienced lawyer can provide the information and guidance to help families be successful. Before any claim is filed, an attorney will speak with family members to learn more about the case, as well as: 
Gather evidence
Locate witnesses
Prepare paperwork

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 ConwayMyrtle BeachMurrells InletMt. PleasantNorth Myrtle Beach or North Charleston office locations. 

Family members can aid this process by keeping copies of any documents related to the accident, the death, and the family relationship. This can include police reports, medical bills, death certificates, family records, and income information.
Dirk J. Derrick
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South Carolina Lawyer Dirk Derrick helps victims recover from car accidents, personal injury & wrongful death.