Understanding Wrongful Death Claims in South Carolina


Losing a loved one unexpectedly can be devastating and can cause overwhelming feelings, such as sadness, disbelief, and shock. If you have lost a family member due to negligence or wrongful actions of another party, you can pursue a wrongful death claim in Aiken, South Carolina.

A wrongful death is the loss of life that is caused by negligent, intentional, or reckless actions of another party. So, if a person dies as a result of the negligent, intentional, or reckless actions of someone else, then the surviving family members can seek compensation for their losses from the responsible party.

Johnson, Johnson, Whittle & Lancer, Attorneys, P.A. (JJWLS) wants to help you pursue a wrongful death claim in Aiken, SC. So, we wrote this blog to help you understand the basics of wrongful death claims. However, if you are ready to file a wrongful death claim, our wrongful death lawyers will offer you the legal guidance and support you need.

What is a Wrongful Death Claim?

A wrongful death claim is the process of taking legal action against the party responsible for the victim’s death. The purpose of a wrongful death claim is to secure compensation for the surviving family members for the losses they have suffered due to their loved one’s untimely death.

To be considered wrongful, the death must have occurred due to someone else’s reckless, negligent, or intentional actions and the surviving family members must have suffered losses due to the death of their loved one.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

The surviving family members, the estate’s representatives, and financial dependents can file a wrongful death claim in South Carolina.

  • Surviving Family Members – The surviving spouse, parents, children, and distant family members, such as sisters, brothers, and grandparents, have the legal right to pursue a wrongful death claim.
  • Estate’s Representatives – The estate’s representatives of the deceased individual’s estate have the legal right to file a wrongful death claim. If, however, there is no will, the court may appoint an administrator.
  • Financial Dependents – Financial dependents, such as life partners, domestic partners, putative spouses, etc., have the legal right to file a wrongful death claim.

Image is of a rose on a gravestone, concept of wrongful death claims in South Carolina

Common Causes of Wrongful Death

There are so many situations that can result in a wrongful death, including medical malpractice, car accidents, work-related accidents, and product malfunctions.

  • Medical Practice – If a doctor botched a surgery, it can result in a wrongful death. In addition, a misdiagnosis can lead to incorrect treatment and may result in death.
  • Car Accidents – If, for example, a car driver is driving recklessly or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they can cause serious accidents that result in serious injuries and fatalities.
  • Work-Related Accidents – Workplace accidents, such as slip and fall accidents, chemical exposure, collisions, falls from heights, and even faulty equipment, can cause wrongful deaths in the workplace.
  • Product Malfunctions – Manufacturers are responsible for ensuring their product safety. So, they must protect consumers. Unfortunately, people can die because of defective products.

Proving Negligence in Wrongful Death Cases

You need to establish the following four key elements to prove negligence in your wrongful death case:

  • Duty of Care – You must show that the responsible party owed a duty of care to the deceased.
  • Breach of Duty – You must prove that the responsible party breached this duty of care through their negligence or reckless or intentional actions.
  • Causation – You must demonstrate that the responsible party’s breach of duty resulted in the death of your loved one.
  • Damages – You must provide evidence of losses you incurred as a result of the death of your loved one.

What Damages Available in Wrongful Death Claims?

The damages available in wrongful death claims include; economic damages and non-economic damages.

  • Economic Damages – They cover measurable losses, such as medical expenses, lost wages, loss of future benefits, and burial and funeral costs. They are, therefore, easy to calculate.
  • Non-Economic Damages – They are compensation for non-monetary losses, such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of compassion, and more. They cover the emotional hardships caused by the untimely death.

Calculating Damages

If you want to determine the value of your wrongful death claim, you need to assess the value of both economic and non-economic damages. It is easy to calculate economic damages. Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are difficult to calculate.

We, therefore, highly recommend hiring a knowledgeable lawyer from JJWLS in Aiken, SC. Our lawyers will work with medical experts, economists, and other experts to accurately calculate your damages.

What is the Legal Process for Wrongful Death Claims?

Before filing a wrongful death claim, you must, first, understand the legal process for wrongful death claims. Read on to learn the typical steps in the legal process:

  • Hiring an Attorney – Hiring a good attorney can help you understand and protect your rights. Your lawyer can also help you determine if you have a strong case.
  • Investigation and Evidence Gathering – Your attorney will now investigate the death of your loved one and collect any available evidence.
  • Filing the Claim – Once your lawyer determines you have a strong case, they can now file a wrongful death claim on your behalf.
  • Settlement Negotiations – Your lawyer can handle all settlement negotiations on your behalf. They will try to settle the case out of court.
  • Trial Process – If, however, a settlement is not reached, your lawyer will take your wrongful death case to trial. Having a strong legal representation increases your chances of getting what your family rightfully deserves.

Statute of Limitations for Filing a Claim

The statute of limitations will protect you from unfair legal action. How? You will not be prosecuted for a crime after a certain period of time.

In South Carolina, you need to file a wrongful death claim within three years from the date of the death of your loved one. If you do not file within three years, you may lose the right to sue.

Contact JJWLS Today to Help You Pursue Your Wrongful Death Claim

If one of your loved ones has died due to the negligent, reckless, or intentional actions of another party, a wrongful death claim can help you find closure and obtain justice on behalf of your loved one.

It is, however, very important to understand wrongful death claims. That is why we highly recommend seeking legal advice if you believe you have a case. A skilled lawyer will guide you through the complexities of wrongful death claims. It is impossible to bring your loved one back. However, getting justice can ease some of the pain.

At JJWLS, we are dedicated to getting our clients the justice and compensation they deserve. Our lawyers have the necessary skills, experience, and resources to handle any wrongful death case, small or large.

Contact us today at (803) 649-5338 to schedule a FREE initial consultation with our knowledgeable wrongful death attorney.