Enduring the loss of a loved one is challenging enough without the added burden of navigating through a lawsuit. In such emotionally taxing times, having an Aiken, SC wrongful death lawyer by your side can make all the difference. Your attorney can help to guide you through the process of getting compensation and justice for the loss of your loved one, as well as help you to make sure your community is safer by holding negligent and reckless folks accountable when they hurt or kill someone.
This article offers insight into wrongful death cases in Aiken, South Carolina--from understanding what constitutes a wrongful death in South Carolina to learning how your lawyer can assist you with filing insurance claims and managing deadlines effectively. Furthermore, we'll delve into various types of damages recoverable in these lawsuits and discuss how negligence plays a critical role in shaping outcomes.
Although the road ahead may seem daunting, it's important to remember that time is of the essence. South Carolina law lays down strict timelines for filing these types of suits, and you don't want to miss deadlines because you may lose the right to seek compensation. We're here to guide you through this process and shed light on what comes next, and we offer free legal consultations if you want to give us a call.
Understanding Wrongful Death Cases in Aiken, South Carolina
A wrongful death case arises when a person's death is caused by another party's "wrongful act, neglect, or default," as provided in Section 15-51-10 of the South Carolina Code of Laws. The loss felt by family members when they lose a loved one due to negligence goes beyond emotional pain; it also involves financial strain from burial costs and lost income. A wrongful death claim is a legal way for families to seek compensation for their loss.
Filing a wrongful death claim can not only help grieving families pursue compensation, but it's a make sure careless parties don't get away with killing someone. However, making sense of this process without legal guidance can be daunting. That's where an experienced South Carolina wrongful death lawyer can step in and help you and your family.
Common Reasons for Wrongful Death Cases in South Carolina
A family may have the right to bring a wrongful death claim on behalf of their deceased loved on in any situation where negligence or recklessness is to blame. However, some of the more common reasons someone might bring a wrongful death claim in Aiken, SC are where a loved one dies as a result of the following:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Boat accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Dental malpractice
- ATV accidents
- Negligent security
- Motorcycle accidents
Specifically, regarding fatal car crashes and truck crashes, data from the South Carolina Department of Public Safety shows that roadway fatalities in Aiken, SC often involve a motorcycle, pedestrian, bicycle, automobile, or pickup truck. These accidents tend to happen on US 78 and East Pine Log Road, although some fatal accidents occurred on US 1, SC 19, and SC 302.
Remember, a wrongful death case is essentially a personal injury case where the victim died as a result of their injuries. Thus, Aiken wrongful death lawyers can help you bring a claim for wrongful death in any scenario where that person would have been able to bring a personal injury claim had they not died.
The Role of a Wrongful Death Lawyer in Aiken, SC
When you're dealing with the loss of a loved one due to someone else's negligence, an experienced Aiken wrongful death lawyer can be your guiding light. They help navigate complex legal waters and fight for justice on behalf of grieving families. Just like a personal injury claim, a wrongful death claim is a way to hold negligent, careless, and reckless people accountable for their actions.
We Provide Legal Help with No Upfront Cost to You
An important factor to consider is that some firms, including Spetsas Buist, operate on contingency. This means we offer our legal services with no up-front costs. In other words, we take the risk on your case.
The contingency fee structure allows families who are already facing financial strain from medical bills and burial costs to get the help they need without additional worry about paying a lawyer a retainer and paying for hours billed. Our interests are aligned, and our primary aim is to ensure victims' rights are safeguarded and upheld throughout the legal proceedings, while we strive for a successful resolution of the case.
If successful, contingency-based lawyers take their fee as a percentage of the settlement or award won, which allows them to advocate vigorously for maximum compensation while minimizing risk for clients. Ultimately, this fee structure ensures that you and your attorney are on the same page. The better job we do for you, the more we all get paid.
In essence, hiring an Aiken, SC wrongful death lawyer helps level the playing field against insurance companies and corporations that have endless money and teams of attorneys defending them.
Seeking Compensation in SC Wrongful Death Cases
The anguish of a beloved's passing away can be heartbreaking, yet when it is the result of someone else's carelessness or recklessness, families may have the right under South Carolina law to seek compensation for what they've been through. The objective of wrongful death actions is not only to seek retribution for the deceased relative, but also to obtain reasonable recompense for losses brought on by the culpable party. Thus, it's a way to get justice and make our communities safer.
Types of Recoverable Damages
In a wrongful death suit, it is possible to seek both economic and non-economic damages for losses incurred. Economic damages reflect tangible financial burdens like medical bills from fatal injuries or burial costs, while non-economic damages account for intangible suffering such as emotional distress and pain. In a wrongful death case, non-economic damages might include losing companionship or support from the deceased family member.
Economic damages are easy to calculate because there's usually a bill associated with the cost. However, calculating non-economic damages can be more challenging because you have to assign a value to someone's trauma and loss of companionship. As you might imagine, these types of damages could be very fact specific.
Claiming Punitive Damages
Punitive damages are another type of compensation available under certain circumstances--specifically where actions causing the death were especially egregious, reckless, or deliberate. Whereas economic and noneconomic damages are there to make an injured person or their family whole again and to pay them for what they've lost, punitive damages are designed to punish wrongdoing and deter similar behavior in the future by others.
Remember, each case varies significantly based on its unique facts, so consulting an experienced Aiken, SC wrongful death lawyer is a good idea. A lawyer with experience dealing with wrongful death cases in South Carolina can guide you down the path to compensation and handle the legalities, while you focus on your family and doing what you need to do.
Proving Negligence in Wrongful Death Cases
In a wrongful death lawsuit, proving negligence is crucial. This process involves showing that the other party--the party you're bringing a claim against--owed your loved one a duty of care to act reasonably or to refrain from engaging in unreasonable actions; that they breached that duty of care; that the breach of duty caused your loved one's death; and that there are damages as a result. But how do you prove this?
Firstly, you need to establish that the at-fault party owed a duty to act responsibly towards your lost loved one. Generally speaking, we owe a duty to those around us to act reasonably and refrain from doing reckless or careless things. For example, when you're driving on Interstate 20 near Aiken, you owe a duty to the drivers around you to obey traffic laws and pay attention. If you start texting on your phone and crash into someone at 75 miles per hour, you haven't upheld that duty, and we call that a "breach," which leads us to the next element.
The next step in a South Carolina wrongful death case is to show that the defendant breached its duty of care to your loved one by doing something it shouldn't have done or by not doing something it should have done. So, let's go back to the texting and driving example. If your loved one was at a stop light, and a delivery van driver was texting and driving and then crashed into the back of your loved one's car, we would point to that behavior--texting and driving--and say that the driver breached his or her duty of care by not paying attention to the road ahead.
Proving the elements of duty and breach is not enough to establish a successful wrongful death claim in South Carolina. You also need to be able to show that the breach directly caused your loved one's fatal injuries and that your loved one's injuries were a foreseeable consequence of the defendant's careless conduct. In other words, you'd need to show that, but for the defendant's conduct, your loved one wouldn't have been injured and that such a collision was a foreseeable consequence of texting and driving.
The final element of negligence is damages, and we won't spend much time on it. In a wrongful death case, the person is deceased, and the family is obviously suffering because of it.
Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Lawsuits in South Carolina
Time is of the essence when filing a wrongful death lawsuit. In South Carolina, there's a strict three-year time limit to start this process and preserve your claim. This countdown starts from the date of your loved one's death.
South Carolina law provides that if you don't file within this deadline, you might lose your legal rights to pursue compensation. The statute provides, in relevant part:
"Within three years: an action under Sections 15-51-10 to 15-51-60 for death by wrongful act, the period to begin to run upon the death of the person on account of whose death the action is brought."
It doesn't matter how strong or compelling your case may be; you have three years. Thus, timing plays an integral part of these cases.
The statute of limitations exists not just as a legal formality but serves two crucial purposes. First, it helps preserve evidence and eyewitness testimony which can fade over time. Think about it: If you waited for a decade to bring a case, evidence gets lost; people move away; and memories become less reliable.
Secondly, the statute of limitations allows potential defendants some certainty moving forward. If we had to look over our shoulders for years and years, it would be difficult for people and businesses to conduct their affairs. Thus, there must be a hard line in the sand.
A skilled Aiken, SC wrongful death lawyer can help ensure all deadlines are met promptly and accurately and guide you through each step of the process. That's what we do as wrongful death attorneys. It's our job to handle the legal side so that our clients can handle their affairs and deal with the overwhelming burden of losing a loved one.
FAQs in Relation to Aiken SC Wrongful Death Lawyer
Q1: What are the damages for wrongful death in South Carolina?
A1: In South Carolina, survivors can recover economic and non-economic losses. They can also claim punitive damages if the actions causing the death were reckless or deliberate. Our legal team of injury lawyers will help you to calculate all you're entitled to so you can seek fair compensation for you and your family.
Q2: Who are the beneficiaries of wrongful death in South Carolina?
A2: The primary beneficiaries include immediate family members like spouses and children. If none exist, parents or siblings may be entitled to compensation.
Q3: What is the difference between wrongful death and survival action in South Carolina?
A3: A wrongful death suit compensates surviving relatives for their loss while a survival action recoups pre-death pain, suffering, medical expenses incurred by deceased before they passed away.
Q4: Who can bring a wrongful death case in South Carolina?
A4: Under SC Code Section 15-51-20, a wrongful death case must be brought by the executor or administrator of the deceased person's estate. Essentially, the executor, administrator, or personal representative stands in the shoes of the decedent and brings a claim for the at-fault party's actions.
Q5: Who is entitled to money from a wrongful death case in South Carolina?
A5: The proceeds from a wrongful death case in South Carolina is distributed according to SC Code Section 15-51-20. These actions are for the benefit of the deceased person's spouse and children. If the decedent leaves behind no living spouse or child, the proceeds go to the parents or heirs.