Under South Carolina law, any death resulting from a wrongful act, default, or neglect of another is a wrongful death. The act and injuries must have otherwise resulted in a personal injury lawsuit.
At Rikard and Protopapas, our Mount Pleasant wrongful death attorneys help the families of loved ones lost because of someone else’s actions fight to recover damages and hold the at-fault party responsible.
How Do Our Mount Pleasant Wrongful Death Attorneys Serve You?
The role of our wrongful death lawyer is to protect your right to compensation and ensure the insurance company pays every cent you deserve. Our actual duties can vary depending on the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death. However, we will thoroughly investigate the incident and gather evidence to support your claims of a wrongful act and resulting damages.
The laws governing wrongful death claims in South Carolina can be complex.
We ensure your demands package adequately reflects your losses, allowing you to recover every available loss. If the insurance company fails to offer a fair settlement, we will complete and file the paperwork for a lawsuit and prepare your case for trial if necessary.
Types of Wrongful Death Cases We Handle
Because a wrongful death can result from any personal injury accident, we build cases under many different circumstances. The most common types of wrongful death cases we handle include:
- Head-on and T-bone car collisions
- Motorcycle accidents
- Medical malpractice cases from surgical or medication errors
- Childbirth deaths
- Commercial truck crashes
- Dram shop and alcohol liability cases
South Carolina tort law can never fully compensate for losing a loved one.
However, we recognize that recovering adequate financial compensation is crucial in diminishing the impact of your loss, and our wrongful death attorneys in Mount Pleasant will litigate aggressively to collect every cent.
Who Is Eligible To File a Wrongful Death Claim?
In South Carolina, only the executor or administrator of the deceased person’s estate can file a wrongful death claim. Typically, the executor is a family member. However, in the absence of a named administrator or an estate plan, the court will appoint someone to act as the executor and represent the family for the claim. While they are responsible for pursuing damages through the civil court, the family members who can actually recover the awarded damages include:
- The surviving spouse and children
- The surviving parents, when the deceased had no spouse or children
- The remaining heirs, when the deceased had no surviving spouse, child or parent
Our attorneys will help you understand who can receive compensation and what damages are available to recover.
What Damages Can You Recover for Your Loss?
The recoverable damages from any wrongful death case can vary significantly depending on several factors, including the type of accident and who is at fault. However, some economic and non-economic damages are common among personal injury claims. In some instances, the court may also award you punitive damages.
Compensatory economic damages refer to how your loved one’s death financially impacted you and your family. The recoverable losses are often substantial and can include the following:
- The funeral and burial or cremation costs
- The income and benefits your loved one provided for the household
- The contributions they made to retirement accounts and other investments
- Any medical expenses incurred after the accident and before death
- The cost of repairing or replacing any property damaged during the accident
In a personal injury case, the plaintiff is responsible for proving their damages.
Our wrongful death lawyers will help you find the evidence, often including medical bills, pay stubs, tax returns and applicable estimates
Recoverable non-economic damages compensate for the emotional and psychological impact of the accident and your loss. For example, our attorney may assign a monetary value to the following:
- The pain and suffering surviving family members experienced
- The loss of companionship or consortium, which refers explicitly to the loss of intimacy for the surviving spouse
- The loss of knowledge, experience and judgment the deceased provided
- The loss of the deceased’s care, protection, society, love, nurturing and guidance
Proving non-economic losses is more challenging than proving economic damages. In South Carolina, there is no definitive value for these losses. The court will consider many factors, including the level of loss and degree of negligence that caused it. Together, we will explain the process of assigning a dollar amount to non-economic damages that the court will accept.
If the at-fault party’s conduct exhibited gross negligence or egregious action, the court may award the surviving family members punitive damages, sometimes called exemplary damages. The purpose is not to compensate for a loss but to punish the defendant for their behavior.
South Carolina tort law limits the amount of punitive damages for a personal injury case to three times the actual damages or $677,065, whichever comes first.
How Do You Prove a Wrongful Death Claim?
The plaintiff is also responsible for proving the defendant’s liability. This involves five components:
- Death: You must verify that the victim lost their life.
- Wrongful act: Evidence must show that the defendant committed a wrongful act. This is typically based on negligence but could be the result of recklessness.
- Causation: The defendant’s actions must cause your loved one’s death.
- Damages: There is no baseline for damages that anyone can receive. Instead, the compensation available depends on what damages you demand and the evidence you have to prove them.
- Right to bring the claim: Our attorney will identify and name the family members eligible to bring the wrongful death claim.
Our team has experience working with families and executors to find the evidence needed to prove fault and create a recoverable demand package.
Contact Our Wrongful Death Lawyer Right Away
The statute of limitations for a wrongful death lawsuit (in most cases) is three years from the date your loved one passed. As time passes, gathering evidence can become more challenging.
It is never too soon to contact our Mount Pleasant wrongful death attorney and start building your claim for damages. Contact Rikard and Protopapas to schedule a free consultation today.