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Wrongful Death: Who Can File A Lawsuit?

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When someone dies and it’s the fault of someone else’s irresponsibility or deliberate actions, the lives of those left behind are turned upside down. It’s not just the pain of the loss; you can be financially devastated by losing a loved one as well. In these cases, a wrongful death suit can be the means by which you get compensation for this loss.

There are, however, very specific laws and rules regarding who can file these kinds of cases, and when. Learn who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in South Carolina, and discover when hiring a wrongful death attorney can be the best possible thing to do.

What Is a Wrongful Death Suit?

A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil suit, which means that it’s a way for those who suffer an injury to get financial compensation for said injury. It’s different than a criminal trial, which can also take place from wrongful death. Where in a criminal trial, the defendant faces charges that can result in penalties like jail time, in a civil case there are no criminal penalties.

Civil cases take place separately and distinctly from criminal cases. You can file a wrongful death suit regardless of the outcome of any criminal case, or even if there is no criminal case at all.

Damages for Wrongful Death

In South Carolina you can get damages from a wrongful death suit to cover burial expenses and other funerary expenses, medical bills leading up to the death, lost benefits and wages of the deceased, property damage, other measurable financial losses, loss of knowledge, counsel, comfort and companionship, pain and suffering, mental anguish and more. You can even, in very specific and severe circumstances, get punitive damages.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

South Carolina is specific as to who can file a wrongful death lawsuit. The laws in this state require that only the executor or administrator of the estate can file such a case. Usually, this person is appointed as part of the estate plan—named in the will or other documents. In cases where there is no named executor or administrator, the courts will name a representative to take on this role.

Who Is Eligible to Receive Damages

Though the estate representative files suit, they don’t receive the damages, unless they are one of a specific group of designated people. Those designated to receive compensation in such a case are the surviving spouse and children, the parents (if there is no spouse or child), and any other named heirs if there aren’t any living parents, children or spouse.

What Is the Timeframe?

The statute of limitations to file a wrongful death case in South Carolina is three years after the date of death. Any claims filed after three years have expired, will not be heard by the courts.

Of course, collecting on these cases can be tricky. It’s always in your best interests to work with a qualified wrongful death attorney. If you need help with who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in South Carolina, contact Harris and Graves today.