The unexpected and sudden loss of a family member, friend or loved one is an experience nobody should have to go through. But when tragedy strikes, your finances should be the last thing you have to worry about. If a person you know has passed away because of someone else’s careless or wrongful choices, it’s important to contact a lawyer at the Hammack Law Firm to understand your legal rights.
Others responsible for the loss of your loved one should be held financially accountable for their misdeeds. Insurance companies may make it difficult for you to collect what you are owed, robbing you of the full financial compensation you are entitled to. In the aftermath of tragedy, contacting a lawyer to begin working on a wrongful death claim is vital to ensure that you and your loved ones are properly reimbursed. At the Hammack Law Firm, a qualified attorney will gather evidence, evaluate the circumstances, and work tirelessly to make sure you arrive at the proper settlement amount.
So what should you be aware of once you’ve decided to pursue a wrongful death claim? Let’s go into some of the basic facts regarding the process.
What does the term “wrongful death” mean?
As the name suggests, wrongful death is caused by the “wrongful” actions of another party which includes deliberate, reckless, or negligent behavior. While any type of fatal accident can involve a wrongful death, the most common cases involve auto, truck, and motorcycle accidents, as well as medical malpractice, nursing home abuse, and criminal acts.
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Who can file a wrongful death claim?
In South Carolina, a wrongful death claim can only be filed by a personal representative. As long as the victim has a will, a personal representative has already been appointed. However, if the victim of the accident does not have a will, then the victim’s family will need to have a personal representative appointed by the probate court. Once the personal representative is identified, they can then file suit on behalf of the victim’s estate.
Who is awarded damages in a Wrongful Death Claim?
Death settlements in South Carolina are divided equally among family members, regardless of what is established in the victim’s will. This means that if a claim is successfully made, half of the compensation will go to the spouse of the victim and the other half will be split equally amongst their children. If the victim has no living spouse, then the compensation will be awarded to their children. If the victim has neither a spouse nor children, compensation is split among the victim’s parents (so long as each parent supported the victim during their childhood).
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What are the possible damages in a wrongful death claim?
Each wrongful death case is unique as each victim leaves behind highly personal relationships and property. Settlements attempt to compensate loved ones for the financial costs caused by the death.
Common damages include:
- Funeral expenses
- Medical bills
- Punitive damages
- Lost wages, including future earnings
- Lost benefits
- Property damages
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of love, companionship, and support
- Loss of inheritance
- Loss of services
In addition to these damages, compensation can also include interest payments starting at the time of the victim’s death. Presenting damages to the court is a difficult, tiring, and highly technical process. At the Hammack Law Firm, our attorneys will always do the heavy lifting for you, taking time to investigate the claims thoroughly to ensure the emotional and financial costs of your loss are fully considered.
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Who can be found responsible?
Wrongful death claims can be filed against a number of different parties — ranging from individuals to companies and their employees to entire governmental organizations. There are many possible angles to take when addressing the cause of an accident in order to determine who is at fault. Poor road conditions, misplaced signs, defective vehicle parts, or an employer’s actions can all be contributing factors to a single incident. The list goes on and on. Many previously successful cases have found architects, engineers, manufacturers, distributors, and even federal agents to be responsible for the loss of life.
How do I prove wrongful death?
A wrongful death suit does not qualify as a criminal case which means that there is much less proof needed to win a case. To ensure you win a suit, it’s essential to present significant evidence to the court so that the other party is found at fault beyond a reasonable doubt. Additionally, it’s important to remember that insurance companies will do everything in their power to avoid losing money– which means that they will fight hard so that they don’t have to compensate you for your loss. Having a professional to advocate for your rights is important if you wish to receive a maximum settlement.
How long do I have to file?
In South Carolina, wrongful death claims against non-governmental defendants must be made within 3 years of the death’s occurrence. If the suit is against a governmental defendant (hospitals, police departments, public agencies, etc) it must be filed within 2 years.
Should I reach out to a lawyer?
You have nothing to lose! Talking to an attorney from the Hammack Law Firm is completely free of charge and comes with zero obligations. The loss of a loved one is a devastating experience — let us help to make sure you avoid any additional financial or emotional burdens. To get started, contact us by phone or fill out an online form today!