What Elements Make Up a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
If you have lost a loved one in an accident that was someone else’s fault, you may be entitled to financial compensation as part of a wrongful death lawsuit. Pursuing compensation can be a complicated legal action, and it is your family’s one chance to recover for the loss of a loved one. There are numerous aspects to the legal process.
A wrongful death case is a personal injury negligence case where someone has died. Basically, there are two elements to proving that you deserve compensation:
- The defendant was negligent.
- Their negligence caused your loved one’s death.
Negligence is a very fact-intensive inquiry. You need to show that the defendant acted unreasonably under the circumstances. You are comparing their behavior to what an average reasonable person would have done to show that they did not do what they should have. Proving that they acted unreasonably is not always easy. It may require reconstructing an accident or tracking down witnesses who can describe exactly what the defendant did. Without a finding of negligence, your family cannot recover.
The Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim
Assuming you can prove negligence, the next part of a wrongful death case is the damages. These could include both compensation for what the family has lost and payment for what the deceased dealt with before they died. In South Carolina, these suits are separate. The wrongful death claim pays the family, and a survival action pays the estate for what the deceased endured. Damages for the family could include:
- Funeral and burial costs
- The loss of what their loved one would have earned
- The loss of their loved one’s companionship
- The family’s emotional distress and trauma at losing their loved one
Damages for the estate would include the deceased person’s medical bills and the pain and suffering that they went through between their injury and death.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim
Another element in your case is figuring out who can file a lawsuit. Usually, the surviving spouse is the one who files a wrongful death lawsuit, and children can join the case. South Carolina has a wrongful death statute that states who can file a claim and the order of precedence. The hope is that the family can work together on one case and agree upon how to split the proceeds of the case.
Experienced Charleston Wrongful Death Attorneys
The attorneys at The Hopkins Law Firm can help you and your family if your loved one has died because of someone else’s actions. Call us today at (843) 314-4202 or contact us online to schedule your free initial consultation.
How do I win a wrongful death case?
The key requirement is that you show that someone else was negligent, and it caused your loved one’s death.
How long do I have to file a wrongful death lawsuit?
The statute of limitations in South Carolina is three years from the date of death.
How do I know how much to seek in damages?
Your personal injury attorney has the experience and knowledge of your case to advise you how much to seek.