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 not be brought by just anyone. Only the personal representative of the decedent’s estate can bring a lawsuit for wrongful death. South Carolina has its own “wrongful death statute,” that lays out the various required procedures for bringing forth a wrongful death action. Additionally, any actions for a personal injury, deliberate pain and/or suffering, or financial expenditures that were incurred before the decedent’s death must also be brought forth by the personal representative of the estate. The compensation awards resulting from these types of actions belong to the estate but can be passed to other parties in accordance with the decedent’s will.
What Elements Are Needed To Be Successful In A Wrongful Death Case?
There are specific elements that must be present before it is allowable to bring a wrongful death cause of action, and they are as follows:
- The death of someone;
- That was caused by someone else’s negligence, or with deliberate intent to inflict harm;
- Survival of the family members who are disadvantaged by financial injury due to the death, and;
- An appointment of an official personal representative to oversee 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.