Wrongful Death

Have you lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence? You are not alone. We are here to help.

Not sure what benefits are available with a wrongful death claim? Don’t even know where to start? Here are answers to your questions about wrongful death claims.

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This page refers to Wrongful Death law in South Carolina.

Since laws differ between states, if you are located in North Carolina, please click here.

Get Assistance From a Wrongful Death Attorney-South Carolina

Death is a fact of life, sadly enough. And if you have recently lost a loved one because of someone else’s negligence, you are probably overwhelmed…with grief, with responsibilities, and with questions. Why did this happen? What do I do now? How do I pay my bills? Who can help me?

Middle-aged brunette woman seated on a white couch mourning a loved one's wrongful death.

But here’s another fact, one that may help you: in South Carolina, surviving family members have legal options to try to recover damages for their loss when their loved one is killed by a wrongful act. These options, wrongful death claims and survival claims, allow you to seek damages to help ease the loss of your loved one.

These claims can be complicated, during an already difficult time, so it is important to seek the help of an attorney with experience in wrongful death cases who can help you:

  • Investigate the negligence of all parties
  • Gather medical documentation to help calculate damages
  • Identify all the ways you and your family have been impacted
  • Advise you on setting up an estate, if needed
  • Negotiate with the insurance companies
  • Prepare and file suit, if necessary

Unintentional injuries account for 165,000 deaths in the US each year, according to the CDC.

The Law Offices of James Scott Farrin has the resources, staff, and experience to handle wrongful death cases.

What Are Wrongful Death Claims and Survival Claims?

A wrongful death is a death that is caused by the wrongful act of another – whether the act is due to negligence or intentional harm. There are two types of civil claims that can be taken by the survivors of a loved one in South Carolina:

  1. Wrongful death claims focus on the survivors & survival claims focus on the deceased.Wrongful Death Claim – This is designed to provide you and the other surviving family members with a level of financial support after the death of a loved one.
    • Claim is filed on behalf of you
    • Damages focus on losses suffered by you
    • Proceeds go directly to you
  1. Survival Claim – This is designed to compensate you for the medical expenses and pain and suffering that your family member experienced between the accident and death.
    • Claim is filed on behalf of the deceased person
    • Damages focus on the deceased person’s losses as if they had survived
    • Proceeds go into the deceased person’s estate for the heirs of the deceased person

South Carolina applies the modified comparative negligence rule to wrongful death claims. This rule distributes the liability based on how much each party is at fault for the death. So if your loved one was found to be 20% at fault, then any compensation awarded to you and your family would be reduced by 20%.

South Carolina also has a 51 percent bar which eliminates any compensation if the deceased is determined to be 51% or more at fault.

In SC the modified comparative negligence rule prevents surviving relatives from receiving compensation if their loved one was found to be 51% or more at fault for their death.

Who Can Make A Wrongful Death Claim?

In South Carolina, wrongful death claims and survival claims can be filed by the victim’s estate (by the estate’s executor or administrator).

The beneficiaries of wrongful death claims (the people who receive any money recovered from the negligent defendants) are one of the following:

      • The surviving spouse and children of the deceased person
      • The surviving parents of the deceased person (if there is no spouse or children)
      • The heirs of the deceased person (if there are no parents, spouse, or children)

The beneficiaries of survival claims are:

      • The heirs of the deceased person’s estate

What Are Common Causes of Wrongful Death Claims?

Any time a person dies as a result of another’s reckless or negligent conduct, the family member may have a wrongful death claim. Common examples of wrongful death claims include:

      • Vehicle accidents – involving cars, motorcycles, and trucks
        In 2020, there was one fatal traffic collision every 9.1 hours in South Carolina.
      • Medical malpractice – including surgical and anesthesia errors
        Medical error was the 3rd leading cause of death in the U.S. for many years.
      • Workplace accidents – involving explosions, falls, and machinery
        In 2020, South Carolina had 7.4 occupational deaths per 100,000 workers versus the national average of 3.9 deaths per 100,000 workers.
      • Defective products – including drugs, faulty equipment, and household products
        Faulty medical devices have resulted in over 83,000 deaths in the U.S. in the last decade.
      • Criminal activity – including manslaughter and homicide. The homicide rate for the U.S. rose 30% between 2019 and 2020.
If someone commits a criminal, or unlawful, act that results in the wrongful death of another, they can be held accountable in both a criminal proceeding and in civil court. The person does not even have to be convicted of the crime before surviving family members can file a wrongful death claim.

A memorable example of this was the successful civil wrongful death claim held against O.J. Simpson, even though he was not found criminally guilty for the deaths of his wife and her friend.

What Is the Difference Between a Homicide and a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

One of the main differences between wrongful death cases and homicide cases is that in a successful wrongful death lawsuit, the defendant’s liability is expressed in terms of financial compensation (also called damages), which are paid to the deceased’s survivors. In a homicide case, the defendant can be penalized with jail or prison time, probation, and other sanctions.

What’s the Difference Between a Medical Malpractice and a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Snake and staff medical symbol in gold.Unfortunately, people sometimes are hurt, or even killed, because of the actions, or inaction, of those who have pledged to care for their health.

      • Medical malpractice occurs when someone is injured by a negligent healthcare provider.
      • Wrongful death occurs when someone dies as a result of the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another. Wrongful death can be caused by many circumstances, including a medical provider’s negligence.

What Damages Can I Recover From a Wrongful Death?

You can file a wrongful death claim seeking financial compensation to help ease your financial and emotional loss. Recoverable damages from a wrongful death claim focus on the surviving family members and can include:

      • Medical expenses
      • Funeral and burial expenses
      • Lost wages and benefits
      • Property damages related to death
      • Loss of emotional support, love and companionship
      • Loss of financial support
      • Emotional pain and suffering and mental anguish
      • Punitive damages, in some cases

Recoverable damages from a survival claim focus on the deceased family member and can include:

      • Medical expenses
      • Pain and suffering
      • Punitive damages, in some cases

Note: These two lists of recoverable damages are not exhaustive. Damages depend on the facts and circumstances of the case.

Experienced Wrongful Death Attorneys Who Care

A stone angel statue as a headstone in a cemetery.

The South Carolina wrongful death attorneys at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin are skilled at helping clients establish and fight for the damages they have suffered.

If you feel that the recent death of a family member may have been caused by someone else’s negligence, contact us or call us at 1-866-900-7078. We’ll discuss the possibility of making a wrongful death claim. The case evaluation is free, and we have helped many clients through this difficult time.


Is There a Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Claims in South Carolina?

Yes, South Carolina law states that the lawsuit should be filed within three years of the date of the victim’s death. If the case is not filed within that three-year time period, the court will very likely refuse to hear the case at all.

What Are Punitive Damages in a Wrongful Death Case?

Punitive damages are awarded as punishment for the defendant’s serious misconduct and as a means of punishing and deterring the defendant and others from such behavior. In South Carolina, punitive damages are sometimes awarded in wrongful death cases.

What Is Crucial When Collecting Evidence for a Wrongful Death Case?

Police accident reports and witness testimonies are important elements that can be used to establish that a death was caused by someone’s negligence. Medical records, employment records, and insurance policies can also play a key role in determining the value of the harms and losses suffered in a wrongful death case.