Wrongful Death Cases in South Carolina

Wrongful Death Cases in South Carolina

A wrongful death case refers to a situation where a person’s death is caused by the negligent actions of another party. This scenario is commonly seen when someone dies in a car wreck. The concept of wrongful death allows the surviving family members or beneficiaries of the deceased person to pursue a legal claim for damages against the responsible party. Here are some key points related to wrongful death in South Carolina.

Legal Basis

In South Carolina, the right to bring a wrongful death claim is governed by the state’s wrongful death statute (S.C. Code Ann. § 15-51-10 et seq.). This statute outlines who can bring a claim and what damages may be recoverable.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim

Typically, the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate files the wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the surviving family members. The personal representative is usually named in the deceased person’s will or appointed by the court.

Time Limit for Filing

South Carolina, like other states, has a statute of limitations that sets a deadline for filing a wrongful death lawsuit. It’s crucial to file the claim within this time frame, which is generally three years from the date of the incident.

Proving Negligence

To succeed in a wrongful death claim, the plaintiff (personal representative of the estate) must prove that the defendant’s negligent actions caused the death. This involves establishing a duty of care, a breach of that duty, causation, and damages.


Damages that may be recoverable in a wrongful death case can include economic damages (medical expenses, funeral costs, loss of financial support, etc.) and non-economic damages (pain and suffering).

Survival Action

In addition to a wrongful death claim, South Carolina law allows for a survival action. A survival action is brought by the estate to recover damages that the deceased person would have been entitled to if they had survived, such as pain and suffering experienced before death.

Monetary Distribution

Wrongful death and survival actions proceeds may be distributed differently. S.C. Code Ann. § 15-51-20 provides guidance on who will be a beneficiary if there is a wrongful death recovery. Below are three different scenarios:

      • If there is a spouse and no children, the spouse will receive the entire amount.
      • If there is a spouse and children, the spouse receives half, and the remaining half is split evenly among the children.
      • If there is no spouse, and only children, the children will evenly split the entire amount.

The survival action proceeds flow through the victim’s estate and are distributed according to the victim’s will if there is one.

Court Approval

Pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. § 15-51-41, wrongful death settlements must be approved in court by a judge.

Do you need a wrongful death attorney?

If you are considering pursuing a wrongful death claim and survival action or have questions about the specifics of South Carolina law, it is advisable to consult with an attorney who is experienced in wrongful death cases. The Hair Law Firm focuses on car wreck cases, representing clients daily, and filing lawsuits when necessary. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car wreck, contact the Hair Law Firm at (803) 881-3711.

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