South Carolina state law defines a wrongful death as a fatality “caused by the wrongful act, neglect or default of another.” A wrongful death action in South Carolina must be brought by the executor or administrator of the deceased person’s estate.
State law also establishes that wrongful death claims are intended to benefit the deceased’s spouse and child or children, or benefit the parent or parents of the deceased if there are no spouse or children, or benefit the heirs of the deceased if there are no spouse, children, or parents.
Was your loved one was killed in an accident caused by someone else in Spartanburg? You need to contact a wrongful death attorney before you speak to any insurance company representatives or legal representation from other parties about your case.
Stewart Law Offices, LLC in Spartanburg helps families who have lost a loved one pursue compensation in wrongful death claims. Call us or complete an online contact form to have our attorneys provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your situation during a free consultation.
Types of Wrongful Death Accidents in Spartanburg
Some of the most common causes of wrongful death claims in Spartanburg include:
-Commercial Truck Accidents
-Ridesharing (Uber or Lyft) Accidents
-Crashes Caused by Driving Under the Influence (DUI) of Alcohol or Drugs Accidents
-Slip and Fall Accidents
-Nursing Home Negligence
Keep in mind that not all people are instantly killed in these types of accidents. Some victims die weeks, months, or even years after accidents. The negligent parties may still be held liable for those fatal injuries in a wrongful death claim.
South Carolina Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations
South Carolina state law allows a claimant three years to file a wrongful death claim. The statute of limitations begins on the date a person dies. That date could be different from the date of their accident.
When a wrongful death involves medical malpractice, then the statute of limitation begins on the date an injury is discovered or “reasonably ought to have been discovered.” State law prohibits any action based on medical malpractice that is brought more than six years after an injury occurred.
Wrongful Death Statistics
There were 146,571 unintentional injury deaths in the United States in one recent year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Unintentional falls caused 33,381 of those unintentional injury deaths, 37,757 were motor vehicle traffic deaths, and 47,478 involved unintentional poisoning. Unintentional injuries resulted in 30.8 million emergency department visits, according to the CDC.
The South Carolina Traffic Collision Fact Book reported that one traffic collision occurs in South Carolina every 3.7 minutes and one fatal crash happens every 9.3 hours on average. The Fact Book also stated:
-A child under 6 years of age is killed every 8 days.
-A pedestrian is killed every 2.5 days.
-A motorcyclist is killed every 2.5 days.
-A bicyclist is killed every 15.3 days.
-A teen driver is involved in a fatal or injury collision every 1.3 hours.
-A person is killed in a drunk driving crash involving a blood or breath alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher every 26.5 hours.
-A person is killed every 8.6 hours.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported 117 fatal occupational injuries in South Carolina in one recent year. According to BLS:
-3 were the result of fires and explosions
-10 were the result of exposure to harmful substances or environments
-17 were the result of contact with objects and equipment
-16 were the result of falls, slips, or trips
-17 were the result of violence and other injuries by persons or animals
-54 were the result of transportation incidents.
According to BLS, 103 victims were men, and 14 were women, while 30 fatalities were self-employed and 87 were wage and salary employees.
WPDE-TV reported that South Carolina is 20th in the nation in DUI arrests, but third in drunk driving deaths. The rate of 7.6 drunk driving deaths per 100,000 people in South Carolina was only lower than Montana’s rate of 9.0 and North Dakota’s 10.3.
How Do You Prove A Wrongful Death Claim In South Carolina?
Many wrongful death cases are resolved through settlements, which are usually intended to cover the expenses a family has incurred or will incur because of a loved one’s death. If an insurance company for the negligent party does not make a satisfactory offer, a lawsuit could be filed.
A wrongful death lawsuit will usually aim to prove that a negligent party was at fault for a person’s death. This is usually accomplished by proving the four elements central to a negligence claim:
Duty of Care — The defendant had a duty to the victim to conduct themselves in a safe and reasonable manner.
Breach of Duty — The defendant breached that duty of care by not conducting themselves in a safe and reasonable manner.
Causation — The defendant’s breach of duty of care caused the plaintiff’s injuries.
Damages — The defendant’s actions resulted in damages.
Most people accused of negligent behavior will deny responsibility, and their insurance companies may even argue that a victim was at fault for their own death. The deceased are unable to defend themselves against these types of accusations, but Stewart Law Offices, LLC will fight on behalf of your loved one and work to hold the negligent party accountable.
Compensation in a Wrongful Death Claim
When the plaintiff is successful in a wrongful death lawsuit, the jury could award compensatory damages. Compensatory damages are usually a combination of economic damages and noneconomic damages.
Economic damages refer to losses that can be readily calculated and proven like funeral and burial expenses and medical bills. Noneconomic damages are for more subjective types of harm, such as loss of consortium and emotional distress.
Some cases could also involve awards for punitive damages. State law in South Carolina provides that punitive damages can be awarded only when a person is killed by a defendant’s willful, reckless, or wanton conduct. Punitive damages cannot exceed three times the amount of compensatory damages or $500,000, whichever is greater.
Steps to Take Immediately After the Loss of a Loved One
When a family is preparing to file a wrongful death claim, they will typically need to compile the vital records of the deceased and appoint an executor or administrator of the deceased person’s estate. As soon as possible, the family should seek the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer.
Families should seek legal representation before discussing their cases with any insurance company. Some insurers will aggressively push for victims to accept lump sum settlements, but you should know that these offers are invariably nowhere near what families actually deserve. A skilled personal injury attorney will fight to make sure you get justice.
How Our Law Firm Can Help with Spartanburg Wrongful Death Cases
If your loved one was killed in an accident caused by someone else in Spartanburg, do not wait to get help from a wrongful death lawyer. Stewart Law Offices, LLC will diligently work to seek justice for your loved one and fight for compensation for your family’s losses.
Our firm understands that court filings and appearances are not what people who have recently lost loved ones want to focus on. That is why we take care of all the legal requirements so you can take the time you need to grieve and put your life back together.
You can have our lawyers review your case and answer all of your legal questions as soon as you call us or contact us online to receive a free consultation.