The unexpected loss of a loved one is a devastating experience. The surviving family members may feel grief-stricken, shocked, and confused. When someone else’s negligent behavior or intentional misconduct caused the death, the pain and suffering may be compounded by the knowledge that the loss could have been prevented.
The experienced and compassionate Summerville wrongful death lawyers at Joye Law Firm team are ready to guide you through this difficult time. For more than 50 years, Joye Law Firm has been helping South Carolinians rebuild their lives after serious injuries and losses. We can offer trusted counsel and hold the responsible party financially accountable for the loss of your loved one.
We understand that no amount of money is adequate for the loss you have suffered. But surviving family members should not be left to pay medical and funeral expenses nor should you have to deal with the loss of household income. Fortunately, South Carolina law allows the surviving family members to seek compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit.
What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil lawsuit seeking to hold an individual, business, or other entity financially liable for a preventable death. A wrongful death lawsuit is separate from any criminal proceeding against an individual charged with fatally injuring another person.
In a criminal case, the government brings the case against the party believed to be responsible.
For example, a drunk driver who causes a fatal crash may face criminal charges related to the drunk driving death. A criminal conviction may result in prison time, fines, probation, or other penalties.
The drunk driver also may face a wrongful death lawsuit from the grieving family. It is a civil suit seeking to hold the at-fault driver financially accountable.
Both a criminal prosecution and a civil suit may relate to the same death.
What Are the Elements of a Wrongful Death Claim?
South Carolina civil law permits a wrongful death lawsuit to proceed when a person’s death was caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another.
Wrongful death claims must prove the following elements:
- Duty of Care — The negligent or reckless party had a legal duty to conduct themselves in a safe and reasonable manner to avoid harming others.
- Breach of Duty — The negligent or reckless party failed to fulfill that legal duty.
- Causation — The breach of the duty of care caused the victim’s death.
- Damages — The victim’s final medical expenses and their untimely death resulted in financial losses incurred by the surviving loved ones.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In South Carolina, the administrator or executor of the deceased victim’s estate may file a wrongful death lawsuit.
The wrongful death lawsuit is brought on behalf of the deceased person’s spouse and children. If the deceased did not have a spouse or children, the lawsuit is brought on behalf of the individual’s parents. If there is no spouse, children, or parents, then the lawsuit is filed on behalf of the person’s heirs.
How To Start a Wrongful Death Claim?
If you have lost a loved one and have questions about filing a wrongful death lawsuit, a Summerville attorney at Joye Law Firm can review the details of your family member’s death and discuss your legal options.
Before filing a wrongful death in South Carolina, the following must be established:
- That individual died due to another party’s negligence
- The deceased is survived by immediate family members
- The family members have had financial losses because of the death.
It is important that you work with a South Carolina wrongful death attorney who has a thorough understanding of the wrongful death laws. Joye Law Firm has handled many wrongful death cases, including having secured the largest personal injury verdict in South Carolina history. The firm has the resources to conduct a thorough investigation into the fatal incident.
A wrongful death lawyer will seek evidence to prove liability in the case. This may include obtaining medical records, video footage of the accident, statements from witnesses, and more. The attorney also will calculate the total losses incurred by your family.
There are a few simple steps you can take to avoid undermining your claim, such as:
- Staying off social media: Anytime you file a lawsuit, , your social media activity could potentially affect the outcome of your case. The same is true when filing a wrongful death claim. Insurance companies may look through your social media account seeking any information that could be used against you. It’s in your best interest not to use social media while the case is pending.
- Not speaking with the insurance companies: Direct any correspondence from the insurance adjusters to an experienced South Carolina wrongful death lawyer. Any written or verbal statements you provide an insurer could hurt your case. Keep in mind that the insurance company does not have your best interests at heart.
- Keeping track of your expenses: Keep a record of any costs and expenses your family incurs as a result of the wrongful death, including household services, childcare, and other necessities. You may also want to keep a journal documenting the ways in which losing your loved one impacted your personal life.
Types of Summerville Wrongful Death Cases
Any type of fatal accident or death caused by someone else’s disregard for safety or misconduct may be grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit.
At Joye Law Firm, our Summerville attorneys have extensive experience helping people seek justice for the loss of a loved one in a:
- Car accident
- Truck accident
- Motorcycle accident
- Pedestrian accident
- Bicycle accident
- Train crash
- Slip and fall accident
- Medical malpractice
- Work accident
- Construction accident
- Defective product
- Boating accident
- Aviation accident
- Hunting accident
- Nursing home abuse or neglect
Wrongful Death Statistics in Summerville
Fatal traffic accidents are a common basis for wrongful death lawsuits. When drivers speed, drive distracted, driving while intoxicated, or make other irresponsible driving decisions, they may cause fatal accidents. They may be held accountable for the harm they cause.
Dorchester County which includes Summerville had 24 traffic fatalities in 2020. Of the total, 8 fatalities involved alcohol-impaired driving, 5 involved speeding, and 8 involved large trucks, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Many of those were preventable tragedies.
Statewide, in 2021, there were 176 fatal crashes and 191 persons killed, according to data from the South Carolina Department of Public Safety. There were 17 pedestrians killed, 4 bicyclists killed, and 10 motorcyclists killed.
If your loved one was killed in a motor vehicle accident caused by another driver’s driving error or disregard for safety, you may be entitled to pursue a wrongful death action.
The attorneys at Joye Law Firm are ready to answer your questions during a free, no-obligation consultation.
Compensation Available in a Summerville Wrongful Death Claim
A wrongful death lawsuit may seek compensation for:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of financial support
- Lost wages
- Medical expenses
- Loss of benefits
- Loss of inheritance
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of household services
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
It’s important to note that there are limits on the amount of compensation you can receive in certain wrongful death cases. There are two main damage caps in South Carolina. One is a cap on the amount of compensation you can recover in a wrongful death lawsuit involving medical malpractice.
You can receive no more than $350,000 in non-economic damages from a single health care provider, such as a doctor, nurse, or health facility. If you file a lawsuit against three or more health care providers, you could recover up to $1.05 million. The other cap involves punitive damages, which are only available in certain cases to punish a defendant’s outrageous or malicious conduct. Punitive damages are limited to either $500,000 or no more than three times the amount of actual damages awarded, whichever is more.
How the Wrongful Death Lawyers Can Help With Your Wrongful Death Case
At Joye Law Firm, our dedicated Summerville wrongful death attorneys can:
- Conduct an in-depth investigation into the accident that caused your loved one’s death
- Document all the costs your family has incurred
- Account for the pain and suffering you and your family have endured
- Submit a demand for a settlement and inform you of any settlement offers
- Negotiate with the insurance companies in pursuit of a full and fair compensation
- Advocate for justice for your loved one in court if the insurance company refuses to offer a satisfactory settlement.
Contact the Joye Law Firm Summerville Wrongful Death Attorneys Today
The sudden, untimely death of a loved one is a heartbreaking experience. Whether your loved one died in a car accident, a motorcycle accident, or another negligent or intentional act, you should seek knowledgeable legal guidance. The Summerville wrongful death lawyers at Joye Law Firm are ready to help.
We handle wrongful death cases on a contingency fee basis. You will not be expected to pay any out-of-pocket costs to have our law firm handle your case. We only receive a legal fee if we obtain compensation for you.
Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation today.