Aiken Wrongful Death Lawyer


Losing a loved one to an untimely death is a devastating experience for those left behind. Grieving the loss is even more difficult knowing the death was caused by someone else’s careless or reckless acts.

The surviving family members are often left with medical bills and/or funeral and burial expenses, not to mention the enduring loss of the emotional and financial support they receive from the deceased relative.


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Fortunately, the law allows surviving family members to bring a wrongful death claim against the party responsible for the demise of a loved one to help ease the financial burden. While a lawsuit will not revert the loss, it can help the family get justice and recover the compensation they need to move on with their lives.

Our Aiken wrongful death lawyers are equipped with the experience and knowledge that is required for bringing this type of suit and for getting the compensation that you and your family deserve for the death of your loved one.

Call Johnson, Johnson, Whittle, Lancer, & Staggs today at (803) 649-5338 to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced personal injury lawyers.

Table of Contents

How is Wrongful Death Defined in SC?

South Carolina law has a clause for wrongful death, which allows surviving family members to bring a wrongful death claim if the death was caused by wrongful neglect or actions, and the deceased person would have been entitled to recover damages from the at-fault party had they survived.

The law specifies the following elements for wrongful death claims if the death of the person was:

  • Caused by another person or entity, and not the decedent.
  • The death was a result of neglect, wrongful act, or default of another person.
  • If the decedent had survived the incident, they could have pursued a personal injury claim against the at-fault party.

The law also says that the surviving family can file a wrongful death claim even if the death was caused by the at-fault party’s criminal activity. In other words, in case someone kills another and the killing is a felony, the family could take action in civil court seeking financial compensation for the wrongful death.

Who is Qualified to File a Wrongful Death Claim?

In South Carolina, the administrators or executors of the deceased victim’s estate can file the lawsuit. If the deceased person didn’t have an estate plan in place, then a South Carolina court will appoint someone to step in.

The estate administrator/executor essentially acts on behalf of the surviving family members. As such, even if family members choose not to bring a wrongful death claim, they can still recover compensation.

The law recognizes the following surviving family members as eligible for compensation in a wrongful death claim:

  • Surviving spouse
  • Parents
  • Children
  • Heirs at law, in case there are no other heirs available

If the claim is successful, the recovered damages are divided among the children, spouse, parents, and heirs of the deceased. The court will divide the damages based on SC’s interstate law, just as if the deceased died without a will in place.

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What Qualifies as a Wrongful Death?

Before filing a claim, it’s important to establish whether the untimely demise of your loved one counts as wrongful death based on SC laws. Generally speaking, it can be helpful to think of wrongful death as a personal injury case where the injured person is no longer able to bring their case to court. Rather, someone else has to step in and file the lawsuit.

Just as with personal injury cases, many kinds of incidents or accidents can form a basis for a wrongful death claim, including:

  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Workplace accidents or illnesses
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Medical malpractice or negligence
  • Defective products
  • Nursing home abuse
  • Slip and fall accidents

It can be difficult to prove liability for these kinds of accidents, which is why hiring wrongful death lawyers is critical. During your case evaluation, your Aiken wrongful death lawyer will help you establish whether your case qualifies and help you understand all your legal options.

Can a Surviving Family Member File for Punitive Damages?

Yes. damages in a wrongful death claim can be categorized into two forms, pecuniary damages and punitive damages. Pecuniary damages are the principal measure of damages and are a measure of financial or economic losses that resulted from the decedent’s death.

Punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant and deter other people from engaging in similar actions. They are generally reserved for cases where someone is deemed to have acted extremely maliciously, wantonly, willfully, or in outrageous negligence.

However, punitive damages are only awarded if there are significant pecuniary damages in the first place. Again, the court will not evaluate punitive damages to compensate the victim’s family, rather, it will all be to punish the at-fault party and act as a warning to members of the public.

How Do You Prove Negligence in a Wrongful Death Claim?

In general, four main elements of negligence have to be proven for the wrongful death claim to be successful.

Duty of Care

The first step is to demonstrate that the defendant owed the decedent a duty of care. This is a general term for an individual’s legal obligation to uphold and protect the safety and well-being of other people through their interactions with them.

For instance, drivers owe a duty of care to other road users, and medical professionals owe a duty of care to their patients. The court typically uses factors such as the foreseeability of an accident happening to determine the duty of care.

Breach of Duty of Care

The next thing you and your Aiken wrongful death lawyer need to show is that the defendant breached their duty of care to the decedent. This means demonstrating that the defendant acted recklessly or negligently or that they failed to perform their duties to a standard that a reasonable person in the same position would have.

For instance, in a car accident, a driver may have breached their duty of care if they were intoxicated at the time of the accident or fell asleep at the wheel. In any of these cases, the defendant failed to exercise a reasonable level of care to maintain the well-being of those around them.


A person may breach their duty of care to another person without necessarily causing any damage. As such, proving causation is a critical element when it comes to proving negligence in a wrongful death case.

To establish that the defendant’s actions directly led to the demise of the victim requires a lot of compelling evidence. Your Aiken wrongful death lawyer can help you gather all the evidence you need, including surveillance footage, medical records, witness testimonies, and any other evidence that demonstrates how the defendant’s breach of duty caused the death of your loved one.


Finally, you will need to show that the defendant’s actions led to losses that your loved one and the surviving family members suffered. These include losses and expenses related to the loss of your loved one, including burial and funeral expenses, loss of companionship, loss of financial support, along with any medical expenses and property damage your loved one experienced from the incident.

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How Do You Start a Wrongful Death Claim in SC?

To recover damages in your wrongful death claim in South Carolina, a personal representative of the deceased’s estate has to be appointed first. Once the probate court essentially approves of or appoints this person, the case can proceed.

Case Investigation

With the estate administrator in place, your lawyer will start collecting the necessary evidence for the case. They will also place the negligent party on notice about the wrongful death action and request that they submit our correspondence to their insurance provider.

Proving the case may entail talking to multiple witnesses, using a private investigator, and retaining experts. Insurance companies generally take wrongful death claims quite seriously and will try to defend them vigorously. As such, it’s important to get an Aiken wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible so that they can collect as much evidence as possible early on in the case.

Settlement Negotiations

Many wrongful death claims are settled out of court, mostly through negotiations with the defendant and their insurance company. At JJWLS, you can be certain that our Aiken wrongful death lawyers have the skills to negotiate with them on your behalf and make sure you receive a fair settlement for your wrongful death claim.

We know the kind of tactics the insurance companies may try to use to undermine the claim, and we can effectively counter them through persuasive arguments and compelling evidence. In case they fail to reach a fair settlement amount, we’ll proceed to the next step.

Court Representation

Our team won’t hesitate to take your case to trial when a fair settlement isn’t reached. We will put our best foot forward to prepare for the trial. We will also prepare the personal representative of the deceased’s estate about what to expect during the trial.

During the actual trial, we’ll handle everything and represent you before the judge and jury. Our Aiken wrongful death lawyers present a compelling case to convince them why the decedent’s estates deserve the full compensation amount. Our extensive trial experience can make all the difference in securing a favorable outcome.

What Types of Evidence Can Be Useful in a Wrongful Death Suit?

Your attorney will need certain pieces of evidence to get you a favorable outcome. Some of the most common types of evidence in wrongful death claims include:

Death Certificate

These are the official documents containing the cause of death as established by the coroner. If it was a car accident, the injuries will be noted on the death certificate.

Police and Autopsy Reports

If the cause of death was due to an accident where the police were called to the scene, police reports will be necessary. Your Aiken wrongful death lawyer can help obtain and preserve copies of the police reports in connection with the accident and subsequent investigations.


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Medical Records

Some causes of wrongful death might also be contained in the medical records. For instance, if your loved one was first taken to the hospital following the accident, all the treatment they received will need to be evaluated. Medical records can help ascertain that the cause of death was the injuries sustained in the accident.

Financial Documents

One of the financial damages that you can pursue in wrongful death claims is loss of financial support. Tax returns and other financial records are some of the best ways to estimate the loss. Some other financial documents that could be helpful include pay stubs, records of investments, and their returns.

What is the Difference Between a Wrongful Death Claim and an Estate Claim?

There are two main mechanisms for seeking justice when someone loses their life due to the negligence of another party through personal injury law. The surviving family members can either file a wrongful death claim against the liable party or the decedent’s estate can file an estate claim against the defendant.

Wrongful death claims are a form of personal injury law where the decedent’s estate steps into the role of the decedent to seek recovery for the value of life taken by the negligent actions of the party liable for the decedent’s death.

On the other hand, estate claims seek compensation for losses incurred by the deceased individual before death, such as medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other damages resulting from the injury or circumstances that led to death.

Unlike wrongful death claims, which focus on compensating surviving family members for their losses, estate claims focus on compensating the estate itself for losses incurred by the deceased individual.

Image is of an Aiken wrongful death lawyer consoling a grieving client

For Compassionate Legal Support, Contact Our Aiken Wrongful Death Lawyers

JJWLS recognizes that losing a loved one is often a difficult event for the entire family, especially if it was caused by the negligence of another party. This is why we are always committed to providing grieving families with all the support and resources they need to pursue justice and compensation following the untimely death of their loved ones.

If your loved one lost their life due to the negligent actions of another party, please reach out to Johnson, Johnson, Whittle, Lancer, & Staggs as soon as possible to schedule a free consultation with our Aiken wrongful death lawyers. During our consultation, we will evaluate the circumstances surrounding the incident and provide you with sound legal advice about your claim.

Our team is always available to help you navigate these challenging times. Please get in touch with us at (803) 649-5338 to get started with your wrongful death claim with one of our Aiken wrongful death lawyers.