Loss of Consortium in South Carolina Wrongful Death Cases

March 14, 2024 / RP Legal

You may be entitled to a wide variety of damages in a wrongful death case, including what’s called loss of consortium.

It is up to you to maximize the value of your case. An experienced attorney would review the details of your situation and let you know what you should seek in a wrongful death lawsuit. If you do not get legal help, you may have no idea about the size of your compensation.

Contact the Columbia wrongful death attorneys at Rikard & Protopapas to learn more about the process that you must follow to get the maximum financial compensation in your wrongful death case.

South Carolina Laws on Loss of Consortium Cases

South Carolina law allows the spouse to sue for loss of consortium damages. Specifically, the law says that:

“Any person may maintain an action for damages arising from an intentional or tortious violation of the right to the companionship, aid, society and services of his or her spouse.”

The South Carolina Supreme Court has not allowed parents to sue for loss of consortium damages when they have lost a child in an accident. This is known as filial loss of consortium.

In Doe v. Greenville County School District, the South Carolina Supreme Court held that the legislature did not create this right. There is a bill to allow filial loss of consortium pending in the South Carolina Legislature, but it has not been signed into law yet.

South Carolina law places limits on the amount of loss of consortium damages that you can recover in a lawsuit. The law states that you are limited to either $500,000 or three times the compensatory damages in a personal injury case, whichever is greater.

There is still an opening for you to receive a large settlement or award in your wrongful death case.

You Need to Prove Your Damages in a Loss of Consortium Claim

In a loss of consortium claim in South Carolina, a plaintiff would have to prove that someone else was responsible for their loved one’s death.

If you can successfully demonstrate liability, the conversation will then shift to the damages that your family may be due. You have the burden of proof to demonstrate every single aspect of your wrongful death case, whether it is liability or damages.

A plaintiff would need to bring proof of exactly what the deceased person meant to the family as part of their claim or lawsuit.

Broad and sweeping generalizations alone will not be enough to prove your damages. You would need specific proof of your loss to have a legal entitlement to the compensation.

What Is Included in a Loss of Consortium Claim?

Many people think of loss of consortium as being about the intimate relations that the spouses had before the accident. The truth is that loss of consortium claims cover many other things and benefits that the deceased spouse provided.

Loss of consortium is actually the broader term that describes much of what the deceased person did for the family before they passed away. Under South Carolina law, loss of consortium claims can cover:

  • Loss of the emotional support that the deceased person provided
  • The loss of the services that the person provided and performed for the family
  • The loss of the counsel that they provided
  • The loss of the quality of the marital relationship that they had with their spouse

Loss of consortium claims are not just limited to wrongful death cases. The spouse may receive damages in any type of personal injury case.

The personal injury claim is meant to compensate those who have suffered losses from the negligence. A spouse is also impacted when they are no longer able to have the same type of physical relationship that they enjoyed before the accident, or benefit from other services that the spouse provided.

The Insurance Company May Try to Question The Closeness of Your Relationship

Loss of consortium claims will often subject you to uncomfortable and difficult questions as part of the legal process.

If you are seeking compensation for the loss of a certain relationship, you can expect much scrutiny about the actual relationship. The insurance company is going to want to know intimate details of your relationship with your spouse. No matter how uncomfortable you are talking about the physical relationship, you are going to have to do it if you want to be fully paid for your injuries.

In addition, the insurance company will inquire about the overall quality of the marriage. If they believe that you were having marital difficulties, they may try to exploit this fact in settlement negotiations or at trial. The insurance company will try to get into granular detail at every possible opportunity.

You may even need to sit down for a deposition with opposing counsel, where they will ask you questions under oath in person. They may claim that your damages are not as high because you did not have the close physical relationship that you have described. Expect them to get down to the details.

No matter how you feel, you will need to answer the questions because you are the one who has the obligation to prove your damages. The insurance company wants to raise enough doubt, where the jury may not award you as much as you seek. Expect to have to give personal testimony. Your lawyer can help prepare you to testify, and they will explain some of the challenges that you may face.

Contact a Wrongful Death Attorney in Columbia

If you have tragically lost a loved one in an accident, the attorneys at Rikard & Protopapas can handle the difficult details of the legal process on your behalf. We do our best to place ourselves in your shoes while you are going through a difficult time.

Should you hire us, let us take care of everything on your behalf. Contact us to schedule a free initial consultation. Call us today, or message us through our website, to discuss your case with an attorney.

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