A Wrongful Death Case Is Worth The Full Value Of The Taken Life. Learn About Your Case So You Can Obtain Full Justice in the aftermath of another’s careless act…
We understand that it is everyone’s worst nightmare to contemplate the loss of a loved one. However, that is why it is critical that you find dedicated legal representation to guarantee that justice is delivered in your case. The truth is that there is no amount of money that can bring a loved one back, but through the American Jury system, your case can make a difference not only to those family members left behind but to the community at large.
Our goal is to assist you in understanding your choices in seeking out a wrongful death lawyer and in determining whether you have a case against the person who killed your family member. Pursuing a lawsuit is a major decision and should only be undertaken once you have regained your footing. But please keep in mind there are laws in South Carolina and every other state that limit the time in which you can sue file a lawsuit.
What Exactly Is A Wrongful Death Case?
A wrongful death case arises after an individual is killed by the carelessness or neglect of another person or corporation. Sadly, this occurs every day for reasons that can be and should be avoided. In our fast-paced profit-driven society, speed and greed often take the place of safe and steady and ordinary folks like us to pay the ultimate price. Thomason and Pracht, LLP has handled South Carolina Wrongful Death cases against both individuals and corporations. Also, Thomason and Pracht, LLP has litigated South Carolina Wrongful Death cases in both State and Federal Court.
South Carolina law allows you to sue the negligent or guilty party for causing the wrongful death. Like we said earlier you can never put a price on human life. However, the justice system is intended to help you and your family with the financial burdens and consequences of your loss, especially if the deceased was the breadwinner of the family. The law also punishes the other party for wrongfully taking a life.
Understanding a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
A wrongful death case in South Carolina has two basic components and is governed by South Carolina Code Section 15-51-10 through 15-51-60 The first case is for medical and funeral expenses, and the pain and suffering the person felt before his/her death. This case belongs to the Estate. In South Carolina, this case is typically called the “Survival Action”.
The second component of the case brought under South Carolina’s wrongful death statute is generally referred to as the “Wrongful Death Action”. In South Carolina, in order to file a wrongful death action on behalf of a loved one, you must first be appointed Personal Representative over the deceased Estate by the Probate Court a County of proper venue. This case represents the “full value for the loss of the life of the decedent.”
Who can be named the Personal Representative?
Under the South Carolina Probate Code, if the decedent died with a validly executed Will then the person named in that document has priority to be appointed the Personal Representative. If the decedent died without a Will then their Estate will be declared “intestate” and the following priority will apply: Surviving spouse, adult children, parents, siblings, other relatives. Please note that any Personal Representative regardless of priority must be deemed fit by the Probate Court.
What Damages Are Available In South Carolina Wrongful Death Case?
As noted above, a wrongful death usually results in two distinct claims. The Estate is entitled to medical and funeral expenses. This is relatively straightforward and bills are usually the only evidence that is required. The Estate is also entitled to pain and suffering from the time of accident until death. Defense lawyers always attempt to find evidence to shorten the time of suffering. As callous as it is, they will use autopsies and the facts to argue the person died “instantly” or was rendered unconscious such that they did not feel any pain or suffering.
The other claim, and usually the bigger sum, is the case for the value of the decedent’s life. South Carolina Wrongful Death claims recover the loss of the person. Therefore, we attempt to show the economic and non-economic aspects of a person’s life to gain maximum recovery.
In recovering economic damages we look to earning and other financial loss value over a normal life expectancy. What this means is that an economist will take a person’s income and project it out over the normal life expectancy of a similar person. This gives you the total amount of money the person would have earned over the course of their life. A good attorney will retain a reputable economist who will take into account bonuses, benefits, and raise for someone who was working. An economist can also examine the value of losing the household services of a loved one by calculating the value of services she provided to the household.
The economist will then reduce this amount by what is known as “present value.” Present value is simply a calculation where a lifetime of earnings is worth today. Obviously, the two biggest factors in determining this number are the annual salary of the person and the age of the person.
The non-economic aspect is a difficult story to tell in a South Carolina Wrongful Death lawsuit. It is tough because the loss of someone special is never easy to re-tell. We will dedicate all of our resources into telling your story in a personal and dignified way that makes a jury understand that your loved one is and was more than a mere statistic.
How Long Do You Have To Think About Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
The deadline someone has to file a lawsuit is known as the statute of limitations. In South Carolina, the usual deadline is three (3) years from the date of the incident causing the death, BUT BE CAREFUL. Depending on the at-fault party the timeline could be much shorter. We highly suggest that you call our office immediately to speak with a South Carolina wrongful death attorney. You should never risk waiting, however, and the best course of action is to retain an attorney as soon as possible.
Wrongful Death cases are very complex ventures that require substantial financial resources to litigate. This is why Thomason and Pracht, LLP takes all Wrongful Death Cases on a contingency basis. You should hire a professional advocate for several reasons: First, some cases are document-intensive, such as trucking deaths and DUI deaths. Trucking companies are only required to retain certain records for six (6) months and some may destroy the records after that time. In several DUI death cases, individuals have sued the owners of bars for over-serving drivers. Documentary evidence is critical to proving these cases and you will need professional help. Your attorney should immediately jump into action and send formal notices to all parties with documents that all evidence must be preserved.
DO NOT RELY ON ANYONE EXCEPT A WRONGFUL DEATH LAWYER TO GUIDE YOU IN DETERMINING HOW MUCH TIME YOU HAVE TO FILE A LAWSUIT UNDER SOUTH CAROLINA LAW.
Additional Facts You Need To Know About Wrongful Death Cases:
Wrongful death actions are civil lawsuits that do not bring any criminal charges against the defendants (but a separate criminal case may also occur simultaneously). Our office cannot pursue or attempt to enhance the criminal charges against a wrongdoer to improve our civil case.
Your first step in pursuing a wrongful death case should be either to retain a qualified wrongful death attorney. As stated you will need to be appointed the Personal Representative of the Estate before we can file a claim or lawsuit.