What Is Wrongful Death?
When a person is killed or dies because of the negligence or misconduct of another, the surviving members of the victim’s family may sue for “wrongful death.” Some wrongful death lawsuits follow in the wake of criminal trials, using similar evidence but with a lower standard of proof. Regardless, someone found liable for wrongful death may or may not be convicted of a crime associated with that death.
For example, former football star and actor O.J. Simpson was found not guilty of murder in 1994 because the prosecution was unable to establish his guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.” But he was found liable for the wrongful death of the two victims in his civil trial because the plaintiffs were able to prove he was responsible by a “preponderance of the evidence.”
Who Can Bring A Wrongful Death Case?
A lawsuit for wrongful death may only be brought by the personal representative of the decedent’s estate. South Carolina has its own “wrongful death statute,” which establish the procedures for bringing wrongful death actions. Actions for personal injury, conscious pain and suffering, or expenses incurred prior to the decedent’s death are also brought by the personal representative. The damage awards from these actions belong to the estate and may pass to different parties as directed by the decedent’s will.
What Elements Are Needed To Be Successful In A Wrongful Death Case?
In order to bring a successful wrongful death cause of action, the following elements must be present:
- The death of a human being;
- Caused by another’s negligence, or with intent to cause harm;
- The survival of family members who are suffering monetary injury as a result of the death, and;
- The appointment of a personal representative for the decedent’s estate.
A wrongful death claim may arise out of a number of circumstances, such as in the following situations:
- Medical malpractice that results in decedent’s death;
- Automobile or boating accident;
- Occupational exposure to hazardous conditions or substances;
- Criminal behavior;
- Death during a supervised activity.
For more information on Wrongful Death In South Carolina, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (843) 856-2222 today.