Understanding wrongful death claims

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If a person dies due to the recklessness or negligence of someone else, there may be a case for a wrongful death lawsuit. This is a civil suit that replaces a personal injury claim in the event the deceased had lived.

There are certain considerations, such as statute of limitations, who is able to file the lawsuit and how the judge determines compensation, that people should understand.

Factors for monetary damages

According to FindLaw, the party bringing forth the lawsuit can seek compensation, which pays for similar things as a personal injury claim would. Damages may include:

  • Medical expenses relating to the injury that resulted in death
  • Memorial, funeral and burial expenses
  • Loss of companionship
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages and future earnings

Many times, the involved parties agree to forego a trial and instead settle for an amount outside of court.

Parties allowed to file wrongful death lawsuits

According to the South Carolina Legislature, the person who must bring forth a wrongful death lawsuit is the administrator or executor of the estate. This action is for the benefit of the beneficiaries of the deceased, which is most commonly the spouse and children, including illegitimate ones. If there are no children or spouse, parents are the next ones to receive compensation. If the parents are not living, any other heirs are the recipients.

If the jury rules in favor of the deceased’s administrator’s case, the court divides the money amongst the beneficiaries in the same manner as if the decedent died without a will. Beneficiaries may also decide on distribution themselves, but the court must approve of the settlement.

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