An unexpected death in the family due to an avoidable accident or misconduct — a car crash, medical malpractice, nursing home neglect, or a defective product — is a heartbreaking experience. For many, the loss of a loved one has terrible financial consequences, too. When a death is caused by someone else’s negligence or recklessness, surviving family members have a right under South Carolina law to recover compensation for funeral and burial expenses, medical expenses, income lost with the deceased’s death, and more.
In Charleston, the attorneys of Joye Law Firm provide understanding, compassion and trusted legal guidance to families facing the aftermath of a relative’s untimely death. We can assist and advise you, including explaining your legal rights and options, finding answers to your questions, and demanding accountability and compensation for losses associated with the death. Wrongful death compensation cannot change what happened. But a settlement can provide financial security for your family and prevent financial distress caused by someone else’s negligent conduct.
We work to help grieving families obtain a financial recovery and a sense of closure after the unjustified loss of a loved one. The Joye Law Firm has offered skilled and compassionate legal guidance to families dealing with accidental injuries and deaths in Charleston, North Charleston, Summerville and throughout South Carolina for 50 years. Our legal team is gratified by the testimonials of former clients.
Please feel free to contact us for a free, no-obligation legal consultation if you are dealing withe a wrongful death in your family.
What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in South Carolina?
In South Carolina, wrongful death lawsuits may be brought against individuals or other defendants whose negligence or wrongful or illegal act caused someone else’s death.
For example, a driver who runs a stop sign and causes a fatal car accident would be considered negligent, while a drunk driver whose intoxication was the cause of a fatal accident would have committed a wrongful and illegal act. A manufacturer and possibly others might be held liable if their product’s defect caused a user’s death and they knew or should have known they were selling an unsafe product.
A wrongful death claim would have to demonstrate that the defendant, through his or her actions or omissions, demonstrated a disregard for the deceased’s safety and that those actions or omissions were the primary cause of the deceased’s death.
In South Carolina, the executor or administrator of the deceased person’s estate may pursue a wrongful death claim for the benefit of the deceased’s immediate family members.
Those eligible to benefit from a wrongful death claim are the deceased’s:
- Husband or wife and child or children, or
- Parent(s) if there is no spouse or child, or
- Heirs of the deceased if no other eligible family member survives.
Am I Entitled to a Compensation Under South Carolina Law?
Wrongful death claims are meant to ensure that eligible survivors do not suffer a financial burden due to the death of a family member that should not have occurred.
A Charleston wrongful death attorney can help you claim compensation for:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical expenses (treatment rendered prior to death)
- Lost wages and benefits
- Damage to personal property
- Additional financial losses related to the death
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish (shock over an unexpected death)
- Loss of support, companionship, comfort and society.
In cases in which the deceased survived the accident but died sometime later, an additional claim known as a “survival action” may accompany the wrongful death lawsuit. A survival action seeks compensation the deceased would have had a right to seek had he or she lived, including compensation for medical treatment provided in life-saving attempts life, as well as for his or her conscious pain, suffering and mental distress.
Compensation for noneconomic damages (pain and suffering, mental anguish) is determined by a jury or in negotiations if the case is settled out of court. In some special cases, a jury may award punitive or exemplary damages as compensation to punish the defendant’s outrageous or malicious conduct.
Should I Pursue a Wrongful Death Claim?
If you are dealing with a loved one’s death in an accident that someone else caused, we suggest you contact our Charleston wrongful death lawyers to review the situation and discuss your options. We do not charge for initial legal consultations. If we can move forward with a wrongful death claim, we will not charge legal fees unless and until we recover compensation for you.
Any unexpected death should be questioned, and answers sought. The accident victim’s survivors may have a right to take legal action if the death was due to negligence or a wrongful or illegal act.
We typically pursue wrongful death cases based on:
- Car Accidents — Car crashes claim dozens of lives in Charleston County, S.C., every year. Speeding, drunk driving, distracted driving, fatigued or drowsy driving, aggressive driving and other negligent and reckless driving behaviors are choices that irresponsible drivers make. After some fatal accidents, Charleston police may file criminal charges against the driver that caused the crash. Drivers should be held accountable when their negligence causes crashes and preventable loss of life. However, you will need to file a separate civil wrongful death lawsuit to pursue compensation.
- Motorcycle Accidents — In many fatal motorcycle crashes, another motorist has failed to look for and see an approaching motorcycle. Too often, a driver turns into an oncoming motorcyclist’s path at an intersection or slams directly into a motorcycle while changing lanes or by failing to slow down. Because of the open design of motorcycles and lack of protection, motorcyclists are more likely to suffer serious or fatal injuries in crashes. The family of a deceased motorcyclist should understand their legal rights after a fatal crash.
- Truck Accidents — When tractor trailers and other large trucks are involved in collisions with passenger vehicles, the occupants of the smaller cars are very likely to die as the trucker walks away unharmed. Multiple parties may be responsible for negligence that leads to a fatal truck accident, including the truck driver, trucking company, trailer owner, cargo loader, or a truck parts or components manufacturer. Commercial truck accidents are complex because of the multiple parties involved and the volume of federal laws regulating the trucking industry. You should have our experienced Charleston truck accident lawyers at Joye Law Firm examine a crash that took your loved one’s life.
- Medical Malpractice — We pursue medical malpractice cases in the Charleston, North Charleston and Summerville areas when a health care provider such as a doctor, nurse, hospital, clinic or birthing center provides substandard care that leads to a patient being injured or dying. Any unexpected death of a patient under medical care should be investigated independently of the medical professional or institution that was caring for the patient. The medical malpractice attorneys with Joye Law Firm in Charleston work with professionals who can determine what really happened to your loved one, and whether the treatment provided was substandard. We can hold accountable those who caused a wrongful death.
- Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect — Nursing homes in South Carolina have a legal duty to ensure that those entrusted to their care are kept safe and receive attentive medical care as required by law. If your loved one in a nursing home has died unexpectedly or after a sudden unexplained decline in health, it is appropriate to question the circumstances. If our independent investigation turns up evidence of nursing home abuse or neglect, Joye Law Firm can work to hold the nursing home accountable through a wrongful death lawsuit. In addition to recovering compensation for your family, a wrongful death lawsuit can bring systemic problems at a nursing home to light and prevent other families from experiencing similar losses.
- Defective Products — We’ve all heard about product recalls, but what is often overlooked is that before they are recalled, most defective products have caused injuries and deaths. It can happen in Charleston, S.C., or anywhere. Our defective product attorneys have won a $262.5 million verdict for the family of a child killed as a result of a defective door latch and obtained a $5 million settlement for the family of a woman who died as a result of a defective door latch. These are complex and unpredictable cases, but companies that design, manufacture and sell unsafe products can be held accountable when their defective products cause injury and death, and Joye Law Firm has a record of getting results for our clients.
Every fatal accident has unique facts and circumstances, and past results are not predictive of the outcome or awards of future cases. But legal experience matters when pursuing a wrongful death claim. Our Charleston wrongful death attorneys have nearly 250 years of combined litigation experience. We are committed to helping clients in Charleston, North Charleston, Summerville and throughout South Carolina.
Contact Our Charleston Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
If your life has been shattered by the death of a loved one in a preventable accident or under unexplained circumstances involving another party, call Joye Law Firm or fill out our online case evaluation form for a free case review. Our dedicated attorneys can pursue legal action on your behalf if we find that someone else’s careless behavior or intentional misconduct contributed to your family member’s death. Contact an experienced and dedicated North Charleston wrongful death lawyer to help you.