wrongful death

Losing a close relative to an untimely death is never easy for those left behind. The grieving process is even more difficult when your loved one’s death was caused by someone else’s reckless or careless acts.

Survivors are frequently left to pay medical expenses and funeral costs, not to mention enduring the loss of financial and emotional support they received from their now-deceased relative. Fortunately, South Carolina law allows surviving family members to bring a wrongful death claim against the at-fault party to help ease the financial burden.

Even though no lawsuit can restore your loss, a wrongful death action, and the help of a compassionate wrongful death attorney from Joye Law Firm, can help your family reach closure and secure the money needed to get on with your lives.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in South Carolina?

In South Carolina, the executor or administrator of the deceased’s estate is responsible for filing a wrongful death claim, as stipulated by the law. According to Section 15-51-20 of the South Carolina Code, the compensation awarded from a wrongful death lawsuit is designated for the close relatives of the deceased in a specific order:

  • The spouse and children of the deceased would be the primary beneficiaries.
  • If there is no spouse or children, the parents of the deceased would be considered next in line.
  • If none of the above are applicable, the compensation is then distributed to the heirs of the deceased, according to the laws of intestate succession.

This structure ensures that the compensation benefits those closest to the deceased, by providing financial support to the family members that were most likely to have  depended on the deceased at the time of their death.

However, it’s always a good idea to consult with an attorney for the most current and detailed advice specific to your case.

Difference Between Wrongful Death and Criminal Homicide Cases

Wrongful death and criminal homicide cases address the loss of life from different legal perspectives. Wrongful death is a civil action compensating the deceased’s family or estate for losses resulting from the death. This can include lost wages, funeral expenses, and emotional distress.

Wrongful death cases typically involve negligence by the liable party—for instance, driving while drunk—but not an intentional act of murder. They require a lower standard of proof, called the preponderance of the evidence, which means that it’s more likely than not that the defendant’s negligence caused the death.

Criminal homicide cases seek to punish the perpetrator for breaking the law, requiring a higher standard of proof known as beyond a reasonable doubt. These actions are brought forward by the state’s District Attorney’s office, rather than a civil lawyer on behalf of a family.

In some cases, a death can lead to both a criminal prosecution and a civil lawsuit for damages. A famous example is the O.J. Simpson case. Although found not guilty of criminal charges for the death of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman in 1996, Simpson was ordered to pay $33.5 million in damages to the victims’ families in a civil case in 1997.

How Joye Law Firm Has Helped in Wrongful Death Cases

Our wrongful death attorneys at Joye Law Firm are committed to our clients and their families. With more than 300 years of combined litigation experience, our South Carolina wrongful death attorneys have received an AV rating from the prestigious Martindale-Hubbell, and several have been recognized in South Carolina Super Lawyers.

While every case is different, our firm’s past results demonstrate our ability to handle wrongful death cases effectively. We know what it takes to win your family fair compensation for your loved one’s passing. A sampling of our successful wrongful death settlements include:

$17 Million Recovery Award for Family of Crash Victims

Joye Law Firm secured $17 million in jury awards for the family of a Canadian couple and their infant son, who were killed in a devastating crash on Interstate 95 near Florence, South Carolina. While traveling home from a trip to Disney World, the family’s SUV was struck by an 18-wheeler driven by an allegedly alcohol-impaired driver, traveling at 70 mph despite road construction warnings.

The fiery crash, which claimed a total of five lives, was described as one of the worst seen by attorney Mark C. Joye in his nearly 30 years of practice. The significant result reflects the tragic loss of life, and juries strong rebuke of trucking company’s corporate negligence and indifference.

$5 Million Settlement in Accident With a Shipyard Vehicle

The Joye Law Firm secured a $5 million settlement for the family of  a Charleston woman who was fatally struck by a Navy base worker, driving a “yard dog” truck with defective headlights. This tragic incident occurred in the early morning when the driver, operating the vehicle illegally on public roads, made a hazardous U-turn, striking and killing our client, while she was walking to work.

The settlement acknowledges the negligence of  the at-fault parties for not maintaining their vehicles, and for the driver’s decision to use a vehicle with known defects. The compensation provided financial security for the victim’s disabled sister, who lived with and relied on the victim for support, and offered some solace amidst a devastating loss.

About Wrongful Death Lawsuits in South Carolina

Under South Carolina’s wrongful death statute 15-51-10, almost any type of fatal accident can be the source of a South Carolina wrongful death lawsuit, including:

What Kinds of Damages Are Available Under SC Wrongful Death Action?

The kinds of damages accessible in a South Carolina wrongful death case differ from those in a personal injury lawsuit where the victim survived. Wrongful death lawsuit damages can include:

  • Medical expenses for the deceased’s treatment
  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Loss of financial support and benefits
  • Loss of household services
  • Loss of companionship, love, and guidance
  • Pain and suffering
  • Punitive damages, which are awarded in rare circumstances where the liable party was willful, reckless, or malicious in causing the death

Contact Our South Carolina Wrongful Death Lawyers Today

If your close relative was killed due to someone else’s negligence, our caring and compassionate South Carolina wrongful death attorneys at Joye Law Firm can help. Since 1968, we have helped grieving families like yours recover compensation and rebuild their lives.

We have offices in Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Clinton, Summerville, and Columbia, where our highly-qualified wrongful death attorneys are ready to take care of your case anywhere in South Carolina. We represent clients throughout the state from the Lowcountry to the Upstate.

Contact us today for a confidential, free case evaluation. We’ll listen to your story and help you take your next legal steps to hold the negligent party responsible for the loss of your loved one.