Who Is Eligible to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

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South Carolina’s wrongful death statute can seem complex on this point. Technically, the decedent’s personal representative must file the action. But the decedent’s survivors, mostly close family members, still have some say in proceedings. 

Wrongful death compensation is much clearer than wrongful death lawsuit eligibility in the Palmetto State. Wrongful death plaintiffs are entitled to pecuniary damages, such as compensation for final expenses and lost future financial support. A Lake Wylie wrongful death attorney can also obtain compensation for the survivor’s grief and suffering, at least in most cases.

Gathering Evidence

Procedurally, wrongful death actions are much like personal injury actions. The plaintiff must prove negligence, or a lack of care, by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not. Proof in a wrongful death case usually includes the police accident report, medical bills, and witness statements.

The evidence must not only be strong enough to support a claim for damages. It must also be strong enough to refute some common insurance company defenses, such as assumption of the risk. This defense often comes up in premises liability claims like falls, and also in passenger injury claims. Victims are legally and financially responsible for their own damages if they:

  • Voluntarily assume there is no risk
  • Act despite the evidence of a known risk

Assume the pool owner has a “No Lifeguard on Duty” sign in near the pool, and a child drowns in the pool. Despite the sign, the assumption of the risk defense does not apply unless the evidence clearly shows that the victim saw the sign, could read it, and could understand what it meant. If the victim is a small child, these elements are hard to prove.

Resolving a Wrongful Death Claim

Most civil claims, including most wrongful death claims, settle out of court. Trials are very expensive for insurance companies. These companies often pay their lawyers over $1,000 an hour each. These high costs add up very quickly.

The settlement value of a case is like the sales price of a house. Both are negotiable. The negotiator, who in this case is your Lake Wylie personal injury attorney, must know when to compromise and when to stand firm. A mistake in either area could mean denied compensation or settling for less.

Wrongful death claims are much like personal injury claims. For a free consultation with an experienced Lake Wylie personal injury attorney, contact the Elrod Pope Law Firm, P.A. We routinely handle matters in York County and nearby jurisdictions.


Who is eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit in SC?

Usually, the decedent’s legal representative has this authority.

Do most of these claims settle out of court?

Yes. Out of court settlements are usually best for everyone.

How long do I have to file a wrongful death case?

You typically have three years from the date of the accident, unless the defendant is the government or a governmental agency.

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