The passing of a loved one is never easy, but when it occurs as the result of negligence or carelessness of another, the trauma to the family left behind is immeasurable. A wrongful death lawsuit can be brought against a healthcare worker, a car manufacturer, a pharmaceutical company, someone who harassed or inflicted emotional trauma on a person that commits suicide, or even an employer that contracted services from an unqualified vendor that led to the passing of an employee.

At Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A., we are committed to helping those who have lost a loved one due to the reckless or careless actions of another. We will seek justice for family members by filing a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf. For over 30 years, our personal injury lawyers have helped countless clients claim the compensation they deserve through successful representation and litigation.

Wrongful Death Lawsuits in South Carolina

Those facing the prospect of a wrongful death case typically have many uncertainties. In order to help you achieve the justice that your family deserves and prepare for your case, our firm has answered the most commonly asked questions that we encounter.

What qualifies as wrongful death?

A wrongful death is defined as a death that arises as the result of another party’s negligence or misconduct. This encompasses not only areas of medical malpractice but also criminal behavior, accidents, manufacturing defects, and a number of other areas; if one party is at legal fault for a death, it may qualify as wrongful.  

What is considered wrongful death malpractice?

Wrongful death malpractice is a specific type of wrongful death that occurs within the medical field. Malpractice refers to a doctor’s or other medical care provider’s behavior that is determined to be negligent or intentionally harmful. This may include failing to diagnose a condition that a group of equally skilled peers could have diagnosed and which later causes mortality in the patient, and issues of carelessness during treatment. Patients who pass away as a result of tools not removed after surgery, preventable injuries sustained during treatment, or doctor negligence are among the many cases that could qualify as wrongful death malpractice.

What does a wrongful death attorney do?

A wrongful death attorney is a legal counsel that represents the family of the victim of the wrongful death case. These professionals guide grieving families through the process of filing a lawsuit and can assist with providing critical aspects of the case, such as the defendant’s duty of care and subsequent breach of that duty that resulted in the loved one passing away. An attorney can assist with establishing causation and securing both compensatory and punitive damages against the party responsible.

Who is entitled to wrongful death benefits?

Only the personal representative representing the deceased’s estate can file a wrongful death lawsuit. Ordinarily, the personal representative will be named in the deceased’s last will and testament. If the deceased did not have a will, however, a personal representative can be selected by the court. The personal representative files the wrongful death claim on behalf of the surviving family members, which can include the deceased’s spouse, children, or the parents of the victim if there is no living spouse or children. If the deceased has no living parent, spouse, or child, the settlement would be distributed according to South Carolina heir laws.

What damages are awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit?

Compensation can be awarded in a wrongful death suit to cover the funeral expenses and medical bills that incurred as a result of the illness or injury that led to the passing. Compensation can also be awarded for lost wages, employment benefits, and property damages. In some cases, the plaintiff can claim damages to cover the loss of companionship, spousal, parental, or child care, and even for the experience or knowledge the person contributed to their family.

Punitive damages can also be imposed on the liable party for the recklessness or negligence that led to the wrongful death of a loved one. 

Proving Wrongful Death

Those filing the lawsuit must first prove that the passing of their loved one was the direct or indirect result of the careless, reckless, or negligent actions of the defendant named in the lawsuit. This is not always easy to prove, even when the evidence appears to be clear. Large pharmaceutical companies, manufacturers, and healthcare agencies have large legal teams ready to defend them against such claims.

The plaintiffs in a wrongful death lawsuit must also prove that the defendant had a duty to the victim and that a breach of that duty caused their death. An example of a breach of duty is the relationship between a doctor and a patient. The doctor has a duty to provide the patient with quality standard healthcare. A breach of duty occurs when medical professionals fail to provide quality medical care that results in the patient’s passing.

In addition to the breach of duty, the plaintiffs must also prove that the responsible party’s negligence caused the victim’s passing. They must also prove that the passing resulted in damages to the surviving family members. Again, this is not always easy to prove, especially in claims against large corporations or healthcare agencies such as hospitals and nursing homes.

Columbia Wrongful Death Lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Advocate for Victims’ Families

If you or someone you know suspects that the passing of a loved one resulted from the negligence or recklessness of another, our wrongful death lawyers in Columbia at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. can help you seek justice. Our legal team has extensive experience with pursuing wrongful death lawsuits against those responsible for the passing of a family member, and holds responsible parties liable for the damages suffered as a result of their death. Call us at 866-881-8623, or contact us online to schedule a consultation today.

Our offices are conveniently located in South Carolina serving clients in Lexington County, Richland County, Sumter County, Aiken County, Florence County, Lancaster County, York County, Orangeburg County, Kershaw County, and Newberry County, as well as the towns of Columbia, Lexington, Irmo, Chapin, Rock Hill, Sumter, Newberry, Florence, and Spartanburg.