Charleston Wrongful Death Lawyers
In Charleston, wrongful death is defined as a death that is the kind of situation in which a personal injury claim could be filed if the victim had survived. Another party often brings wrongful death claims to court. There are two types of actions that may be brought in the advent of a wrongful death: a wrongful death action and a survival action. Wrongful death suits compensate a family for the loss of the loved one and survival actions deal with claims that the deceased would have had to his family.
Wrongful death claims filed in Charleston must be brought by an administrator/executor of a deceased’s estate plan. Often there is a named administrator/executor in a person’s will. However, if there is no estate plan and no administrator/executor, or if the named individual does not want to serve in that capacity, the court may name an individual. A wrongful death lawsuit must also be filed within three years of the date the deceased died. If a claim is not filed within this period, it will not be heard by the court and no further legal remedies are available.
The administrator/executor is also the person who makes sure a wrongful death claim is brought to court to obtain compensation for the grieving family left behind.
Who recovers damages in a wrongful death case in Charleston? The list includes:
- Parents if no spouse or children
- Heirs at law if no spouse, parents or children
- Parents with an adult child who died*
* The exception here is that if a parent abandoned a child before he or she turned 18, the parents may not recover in a wrongful death lawsuit, even if the child was an adult at death.
Damages in a Charleston wrongful death case are solely financial and may include compensation for:
- Lost wages, benefits
- Property damages
- Other financial losses related to the death
- Medical expenses related to a final illness, injury
- Funeral, burial expenses
- Loss of victim’s knowledge, experience
- Loss of victim’s companionship, care
- Mental anguish, pain, suffering of survivor’s family members
- Exemplary/punitive damages to punish a defendant and deter others
It’s important to understand that a wrongful death lawsuit is not based on another wrongful action (tort) such as negligence. A wrongful death lawsuit is a separate cause of action for harm done to a family by a defendant. In this type of lawsuit, the plaintiff must show the defendant’s negligence was the direct or proximate cause of the victim’s wrongful death. In other words, the negligence in a wrongful death case must be the cause of a death and not just an injury.
Survival actions, brought on behalf of the estate and not the family, permit the victim’s estate to bring claims that the deceased could have brought during her or his lifetime. This is a highly complex area of the law and it is extremely important to consult with a knowledgeable wrongful death attorney to understand what is involved in filing a wrongful death lawsuit, what damages may or may not be recovered and what the outcome may possibly be.
To find out how our experienced attorneys can fight for you and your family following a wrongful death, call the Steinberg Law Firm, LLC, at 843-720-2800 for a FREE case review. We serve Charleston, Goose Creek, Summerville and surrounding areas.
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