Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit After a Car Accident: Here’s What You Need to Know

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Losing a loved one unexpectedly in a car accident can be overwhelming. The family members may deserve significant financial compensation. It is usually wise to hire a personal injury attorney to help investigate what happened and guide the family through the process. 

How do you get a wrongful death settlement? How do you make it successful? The Bringardner Injury Law Firm Charleston Car Accident Lawyers explain 10 things you need to know.

10 Things You Need to Know About South Carolina Wrongful Death Cases

1.    What claims can be made for car accidents when someone is killed?

South Carolina law recognizes claims for  1) wrongful death and 2) survival. There are two (2) separate and distinct claims. Survival claims are for damages that occurred between the time of the accident and the death of the victim. It usually includes compensation for pain and suffering during that time period. Most car accidents are the result of negligent conduct by a person, company, or governmental entity. Negligence basically means carelessness. A family who lost a loved one due to the negligent acts or another can pursue both wrongful death and survival claims. Common causes of car accidents that may be the basis of a wrongful death and survival claims in South Carolina include:

  •     Speeding
  •     Drunk Driving, driving under the influence of drugs
  •     Failure to yield
  •     Running a red light or stop sign
  •     Improper lane changes
  •     Debris and flying objects on the roadway
  •     Distracted driving, texting while driving
  •     Not accounting for weather or night driving conditions

2.    Who can file a wrongful death claim in South Carolina?

A deceased person cannot file a lawsuit. South Carolina requires that a “personal representative” be appointed to pursue claims on behalf of the deceased. The personal representative is in charge of the wrongful death claim in South Carolina. Usually, the decedent’s spouse, child, or other family member serves as the personal representative. However, you do not need to be a family member to be the personal representative. If someone died with a will, the personal representative may be named in the will. If there is no will, then the Court will appoint someone to be the personal representative. An attorney can help guide you through that process.

3.    How do you file a wrongful death claim in South Carolina?

To file a wrongful death claim in South Carolina, the responsible parties and their insurance companies must be properly identified. Next, a claim is opened with the insurance companies who will investigate the incident. It is important for your attorney to also conduct his/her own independent investigation, separate from law enforcement and the insurance company. We often discover helpful information in places where others may not know to look. At the appropriate time, your attorney can help start the settlement negotiation process with the insurance companies. If a settlement is reached for a wrongful death case, it must be approved by the Court. If no settlement is reached, it may be wise to file a lawsuit.

4.    What is the statute of limitations for car accident wrongful death in South Carolina?

The statute of limitations varies depending on the facts of each case, the jurisdiction, and other factors. An attorney can help you calculate the correct statute of limitations. If the case is not settled by the statute of limitations, or a lawsuit is filed too late, the defense can ask the court to dismiss the case forever.

5.    Can a wrongful death claim be based on negligence?

A wrongful death claim can be based on negligence, recklessness or intentional conduct. South Carolina law § 15-51-10 allows for a claim if the person who died would have been able to have their own action for damages if they had survived.

6.    Who receives the benefits of a wrongful death claim in South Carolina?

In South Carolina, the person or people who receive the wrongful death settlement money is governed by statutes. It depends on a number of factors regarding the surviving family members. An attorney will assist you in how the settlement money must be allocated.

7.    What damages are available for wrongful death in South Carolina law?

South Carolina law § 15-51-40 allows wrongful death damages for loss of a loved one by looking a the loss to the family. The damages include things like lost financial support, loss of companionship, care, love and guidance..

8.    Is court approval of a wrongful death settlement required?

Yes. A court must approve of any wrongful death settlement in South Carolina. The court will review the facts of the case, the alleged wrongdoing of the defendant, the terms of the settlement. When the court approves, the settlement money is disbursed.

9.    What are the South Carolina wrongful death laws?

South Carolina Code of Laws Title 15 – Civil Remedies and Procedures, Chapter 51, Article 1, Death by Wrongful Act, § 15-51-10 – § 15-51-60 are the wrongful death laws in the State of South Carolina. In addition, court rules of civil procedure and rules of evidence apply to the case.

10. What kind of attorney do I need for wrongful death?

A personal injury attorney is the kind of attorney that handles wrongful death claims. They represent individuals and their families when a loved one has died because of the actions of others. The attorney may act on behalf of the personal representative to file the legal claim, build the evidence and negotiate a settlement.

Attorneys for Wrongful Death After a Car Accident

If you have lost a loved one to a car accident, we invite you to contact our attorneys. At Bringardner Injury Law Firm, we spring into action to represent individuals and their families. We understand how devastating losing a loved one to a car accident is. You have important rights. It’s our goal to represent you to get justice and the financial award that you need and deserve for your family.

To learn about your rights, contact us. Your consultation is free. 

We take care of everything, answer your questions and communicate with you throughout your case. We’re legal professionals here to take a burden off your family.

Fill out the form for a free case evaluation, or call us. We’re here to help you.

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