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Filing a Wrongful Death Claim – What Families Need to Know

find out how to file a wrongful death claim

When a loved one dies through someone’s negligence, you are left with grief, a sense of deep outrage and with the fear that your family will never recover financially after the funeral and burial costs. While nothing can bring consolation for your loved one’s death, an experienced Beaufort wrongful death lawyer can help you file a wrongful death claim and obtain compensation for damages from the at-fault party.

In this article, we will explain who can file this claim, what the process is and what types of damages you can recover.

In South Carolina the Executor of the Estate Must File the Claim

While other states allow a first degree relative to file a wrongful death claim, South Carolina law states that only the executor of the estate can take this action. If the deceased left a will, the executor will be named in the document.

If the person died intestate (without leaving a will) then the Probate Court will appoint a representative. It will usually be one of the first degree relatives.

Who Can Collect Compensation When the Claim Settles?

While the personal representative or executor of the deceased’s estate has the right to file the claim, they cannot collect any proceeds. Their role is to act on behalf of the beneficiaries.

In South Carolina, these are:

  • The deceased’s surviving spouse and children
  • The deceased’s person if there are no children or surviving spouse
  • The deceased’s heir, if there are no closer relatives

In legal terms, the term child refers to biological, adoptive or step children (only if they were legally adopted by the deceased).

Types of Damages that Can Be Recovered through a Wrongful Death Claim

Just like in a personal injury claim filed by an injured person, South Carolina law allows estate representatives to seek economic and non-economic damages in a wrongful death claim.

Let us examine them in more detail:

you have the right to seek damages after a negligent action leading to death of a loved one

Economic Damages

These damages refer to the current and future financial losses sustained by the family as a result of their loved one’s death. They include:

  • Medical bills if the person was in hospital before losing their life
  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Loss of the deceased’s financial support and services
  • Loss of the deceased’s experience, judgment and knowledge

Non-Economic Damages

Legislators recognize the fact that you deserve compensation for the pain and suffering caused by the loved one’s death. Typically, a Beaufort wrongful death lawyer will add damages for loss of companionship, emotional trauma and mental anguish to your claim.

It is difficult to put a dollar amount on someone’s life, but you can rest assured that your attorney will make a fair estimation of the non-economic damages.

Wrongful Death Claim Settlements Must Be Approved by the Court

One specific characteristic of this type of claim for damages is that a court must approve the settlement amount. There are three possibilities:

  • The executor reaches a settlement out of court – the Probate Court must approve the amount
  • The executor and the insurance settle after a lawsuit was filed – the court where the case is tried should agree to the settlement
  • The lawsuit is tried and the jury awards an amount – the judge must approve it

Consult with an Experienced Beaufort Wrongful Death Lawyer!

In the aftermath of a loved one’s death, it is difficult to plan filing a wrongful death claim, collect evidence and calculate damages. You are both emotionally bereaved and without experience in this legal matter. This is why you need to rely on a skilled and compassionate Beaufort wrongful death lawyer with McDougall Law Firm.

We know how to handle these matters, making sure that the settlement we reach is fair for the family and acceptable by the court.

Call us today to schedule a free case review at 843-920-5705!