A wrongful death lawsuit usually arises when someone is accidentally killed, or when someone is killed because of the reckless acts of another. Examples of such accidental deaths include individuals who are killed in auto accidents, children who drown in backyard swimming pools, individuals who are killed by vicious dogs, people who die in amusement park accidents, and so on.
One way to look at a wrongful death lawsuit is to imagine it’s a personal injury lawsuit. With personal injury lawsuits, injured individuals can sue the at-fault parties for damages, but with a wrongful death lawsuit, the plaintiff isn’t simply injured in the accident. Instead, the accident is so severe that the plaintiff loses their life.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Each state has enacted its own laws regarding wrongful death lawsuits. In South Carolina, a wrongful death lawsuit has to be filed by the executor or administrator of the decedent’s estate; however, the wrongful death lawsuit is filed on behalf of the decedent’s surviving family members.
An executor or administrator can file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the following surviving family members:
- The decedent’s surviving spouse and children;
- The decedent’s surviving parents if there is no spouse or children; and
- The decedent’s heirs at law if there is no surviving spouse, children, or parents.
If there is valid legal grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit under Section 15-51-10 of the South Carolina Code of Laws, it may include financial compensation for pain and suffering experienced by the family, medical bills related to the deceased, funeral and burial expenses, lost wages on behalf of the deceased, loss of companionship, and so on.
If the at-fault party’s conduct was reckless or deliberate, the court may decide to award the plaintiff exemplary damages (also known as “punitive damages”), which are meant to punish the at-fault party, and send a strong message to others not to engage in similar behavior or they can face similar consequences.
In South Carolina, there is a three-year statute of limitations or “deadline” to file a wrongful death lawsuit. If a wrongful death claim is not filed within the three-year window, the court will refuse to hear the case.
To file a wrongful death claim in Columbia, SC, contact Masella Law Firm, P.A.