Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in South Carolina?
Losing a loved one because of another party’s negligence or wrongful act is devastating.
Nobody should have to experience the death of a spouse, parent, child, or sibling because another person was not careful or behaved in a reckless manner.
Yet wrongful deaths do occur, and they happen more often than they should.
It may feel impossible to even consider filing a wrongful death claim while dealing with the emotional and psychological consequences of losing a loved one, and the attorneys at Peace Law
Firm know how overwhelming the prospect of a lawsuit can be. At the same time, we also know that filing a wrongful death lawsuit may allow you to hold the responsible party accountable, to recover compensation for some of your losses, and to find some form of closure.
Financial compensation cannot bring back a loved one, but it can make clear that the wrongful actions of the defendant are not going unnoticed. The dedicated South Carolina wrongful death lawyers at Peace Law Firm can discuss your case with you today.
What is a “Wrongful Death” in South Carolina?
The first question you might have about filing a wrongful death lawsuit is this: what is a wrongful death under South Carolina law?
Under South Carolina Law (S.C. Code §§ 15-51-10 through 15-51-210) define a wrongful death action as any civil lawsuit that arises out of a person’s death, where that death was “caused by wrongful act, neglect, or default of another,” and that wrongful act, neglect, or default would have allowed the deceased to file a personal injury claim if she or he had survived.
In other words, wrongful death is an area of the law in South Carolina that is very similar to personal injury law. It begins from the personal injury law premise that, when another party’s negligence or wrongful act causes an injury, the injured person can file a lawsuit against that party to seek compensation.
Recognizing that sometimes wrongful actions and negligence result in a person’s death, wrongful death law allows another person to step into the shoes of the deceased and to file a claim for compensation.
However, there are important distinctions between a personal injury claim and a wrongful death lawsuit. For a wrongful death claim, the statute of limitations begins “ticking” on the date of death as opposed to the date of the injury. In addition, only certain people may be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit, and they may be entitled to additional damages related to the loss of their loved one.
Who Can File a South Carolina Wrongful Death Claim?
South Carolina law makes clear that any wrongful death action must be brought “by or in the name of the executor or administrator” of the deceased’s estate. What does this mean in practice?
In short, if an executor is named in the deceased’s will—such as a spouse or adult child—then that person typically will be the one to bring a wrongful death claim. Yet it is important to understand that the executor is seeking compensation on behalf of only certain persons according to the statute
Regardless of who the executor or administrator of the estate might be, a wrongful death lawsuit can be brought on behalf of the following beneficiaries:
- Wife or husband (spouse) of the deceased;
- Child or children of the deceased;
- Parent or parents of the deceased (only if there is no spouse or child); or
- Heirs of the deceased (if there is no spouse, child, or surviving parent of the deceased).
Contact a South Carolina Wrongful Death Attorney
If you have questions about filing a wrongful death claim, an experienced and compassionate South Carolina wrongful death attorney at our firm can speak with you today. Contact Peace Law Firm for more information.