A wrongful death claim is brought when someone dies as a result of a negligent or wrongful act of another person. A South Carolina statute, S.C. Code section 15-51-10, governs wrongful death actions.
Wrongful Death Claims
Who brings the wrongful death claim ?
A wrongful death claim is brought by the decedent’s Personal Representative in the name of the Estate of the deceased. A Personal Representative is appointed by the Probate Court, and will ordinarily be the person named to serve as Personal Representative in the decedent’s will. If the decedent died without a will, the Court will appoint an appropriate person to serve as Personal Representative.
Who are the beneficiaries in a wrongful death claim?
For purposes of a wrongful death claim, the beneficiaries of the Estate are the surviving spouse and children of the decedent. If there is no surviving spouse and no children, the decedent’s parents will be the beneficiaries. If there are no surviving parents, the beneficiaries will be the persons who would be considered the decedents heirs under the law.
What types of damages can be recovered in a wrongful death case?
The damages sought in a wrongful death claim may include medical expenses for any accident-related treatment received by the decedent before they died, funeral expenses, lost wages and benefits the decedent would have earned in the future, and other out-of-pocket expenses or losses which were or will in the future be incurred by the beneficiaries as a direct result of the loss of the decedent. Another important component of a wrongful death claim are damages for the beneficiaries’ loss of the love and companionship of the decedent. Punitive damages may also be recovered in a wrongful death claim if the person who caused the decedent’s death did so in a reckless, willful, or malicious manner.
Does a wrongful death settlement need court approval?
A settlement reached in a wrongful death claim requires court approval. The terms of the settlement are presented to the Judge through the Personal Representative, and the Judge will approve the settlement if it appears to be in the best interests of the beneficiaries.