South Carolina Wrongful Death

South Carolina Wrongful Death and Survival Actions

Most of the time it starts with a phone call. A phone call that you will never forget and that changes your life forever. A parent’s worst fear realized. A living nightmare for a loving spouse. A loved one has been killed in an accident. It can be because of a drunk patron overserved by a bar. It can be a defective piece of equipment that causes death while at work. The death of a loved one is always painful. It is particularly painful when the death occurred because of the fault of someone and circumstances that were entirely preventable.

These situations can also include:

Negligent commercial truckers and trucking companies. Situations include driving too fast or not following the rules and driving excessive hours, becoming tired and less aware. It can also happen when a trucking company does not follow the rules for covering their loads or maintaining their trucks.

Manufacturers of faulty auto parts that cause a crash, or a poor design that makes a crash much worse than it should have been. Examples include defective airbags, defective tires, the Ford Pinto’s location of a gas tank, or the Suzuki Samurai’s risk of rollovers.

Government agencies that fail to keep roadways safe. This includes the failure to maintain the roadway or designing intersections that enhance the risk of a crash. It could also be police officers abusing their powers or driving recklessly when not on a call.

Neglectful or abusive nursing staff at nursing homes and assisted living facilities. This includes anyone who engages in negligent and harmful behavior while caring for adults and children in their care. Issues that come up include bed sores from inadequate turning, failing to prevent falls, or even—disgustingly—sexual abuse.

Physicians who commit malpractice. Maybe it’s a doctor that has worked too much and not slept enough. Maybe the doctor or nurse has a drug or alcohol problem. Sometimes there is not enough support staff to help meet the demand for medical care. It can be a missed or incorrect diagnosis that was negligent. It can be that the surgeon does not have enough experience performing a procedure but tries to do it anyway.

Mass casualty events like an airplane crash. Modern technology and training make airplane travel very safe. However, the failure to properly maintain an aircraft or issues with the pilot, such as drugs or alcohol, can cause massive loss of life. The same is also true for riding in a passenger train or cruise ship.

Whatever the cause, these events have the following in common: someone has died, and it is the fault of someone else.

Wrongful death and survival actions are two separate and distinct claims arising out of negligence that causes the death of someone. South Carolina allows both claims to be filed together in the same lawsuit. Wrongful death is easiest to understand: someone has died. It is a claim that belongs to the person who died and must be brought by the victim’s estate. S.C. Code Ann. § 15–51–20 allows a personal representative (the prior probate code used the term “executor”) to bring a wrongful death action for the benefit of statutory beneficiaries. The statutory beneficiaries include the spouse, children, parents, or siblings of the deceased based on the rules of inheritance found elsewhere in the probate code. Damages recoverable for wrongful death are the damages sustained by the statutory beneficiaries resulting from the death of the decedent, including pecuniary loss, mental shock and suffering, wounded feelings, grief, sorrow, and loss of society and companionship. Pecuniary loss is a legal term that means any loss of money like future earnings from salary, investments, etc. These losses typically need to be analyzed by an economist to produce a report for use in court.

A survival action is authorized by S.C. Code Ann. § 15–51–10 which focuses on the pain and suffering suffered by the victim before he or she died. The period of time between the injury and death determines the extent of a survival action. It is difficult, but instantaneous death will not support a survival action. In other cases, it is both the pain and knowledge of impending death that gives rise to this claim. It is usually, although not always, also brought by the personal representative of the estate. Sometimes survival actions will be brought by a “special administrator.”

Both wrongful death and survival actions are brought in Circuit Court, but the Probate Court has a role in appointing and managing the personal representatives and/or special administrators. The process is potentially complicated if there is no will and multiple people have an equal right to be the personal representative. A lawyer can help cut through the confusion and help the grieving family manage the process that may be moving forward in multiple courts.

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Families are put into a difficult situation when a loved one is lost in an accident. It's never easy to cope with these tragedies, and motivating yourself to pursue a lawsuit might be difficult. But ultimately, it can benefit everyone to recover compensation for financial losses and to bring a sense of closure knowing that those responsible for the accident were held accountable. And you don't have to face this alone. At The Law Offices of Jason E. Taylor, we are ready to zealously fight for your loved one.

Why Choose Our Wrongful Death Attorneys?
  • Multi-Million Dollar Results Won for Our Clients
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  • 100+ Years of Combined Experience on Your Side
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We genuinely care about our clients, and we get results. Our firm uses technology that is generally found only in larger law firms, and our skill, knowledge, and experience enable us to provide professional and ethical representation to bereaved families. We can aggressively pursue the full compensation you need to get answers, find closure, and recover financially.

You can reach us 24/7 to find out if you have a case. Call (800) 351-3008 today to request your free case evaluation.

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