The wrongful death lawyers of Jebaily Law Firm, P.A., are here to assist you. For more than 40 years, we have helped families in Florence and throughout South Carolina to pursue justice following the wrongful death of a loved one. You can count on us to handle your case with care and attention.
We can investigate your loved one’s death and help you to explore all of your legal options, which may include pursuing:
- A wrongful death claim
- A survival action
- A claim for workers’ compensation death benefits.
Nothing is more devastating than losing a family member due to the careless or reckless acts of another. When you are ready to take legal action, it will be important to work with a lawyer who has not only legal skill and experience but also the compassion you need during this difficult time.
Our goal will be to pursue maximum compensation for the harm you have suffered and to help you to move past this traumatic experience.
Please contact us
by calling our Florence office or by submitting our online form. We can provide you with a free and confidential consultation.
How Will We Help with Your Wrongful Death Case?
Following the loss of a loved one, you may be experiencing tremendous grief as well as stress from the new daily challenges you are facing. Jebaily Law Firm can help you by taking care of the legal matters arising from the death, including:
- Conducting a thorough investigation into the incident that caused the death
- Consulting with accident reconstruction specialists, economists and other experts to analyze the death and its impact on your family
- Submitting a carefully prepared demand for a settlement and advising you on any settlement offers extended to you
- Seeking court approval of any settlement reached in your case
- If necessary, presenting your case in a trial
- Helping you to disburse funds from a settlement or verdict to eligible beneficiaries
- Resolving any health care, workers’ compensation or other liens attached to the recovery.
We will not charge any legal fees unless we obtain a recovery for you. Throughout your case, you can rely on Jebaily Law Firm to pay close attention to your needs and goals, answer your questions and keep you updated about the case’s progress.
What Is a ‘Wrongful Death’ Under South Carolina Law?
A “wrongful death” is defined by South Carolina law as a death caused by the “wrongful act, neglect or default of another.” If your loved one would have been able to sue the at-fault party if he or she had survived, then the ability to bring a wrongful death claim likely exists.
A wrongful death, in this sense, can arise from the same incidents that typically lead to personal injury claims in South Carolina, including those which involve:
- Car, truck and motorcycle accidents
- Construction and other workplace accidents
- Dog bites and animal attacks
- Slip and falls
- Medical malpractice
- Nursing home abuse and neglect
- Defective products.
A wrongful death claim may be brought against an individual, professional, company or a government agency. The evidence must establish that, but for the party’s wrongful conduct, your loved one’s death would not have occurred.
As you move forward, it will be important to work with a law firm that has experience with gathering, analyzing and presenting such evidence.
Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Claim in South Carolina?
When you contact Jebaily Law Firm about your case, we can help you to determine whether you are eligible to bring a wrongful death lawsuit in South Carolina.
In our state, a wrongful death claim must be brought by or in the name of the person in charge of managing and distributing the deceased victim’s assets, or the “personal representative” of the estate. This would be:
- The executor named in the victim’s will, or
- An administrator of the victim’s estate appointed by a court.
The claim is brought for the benefit of:
- The victim’s surviving wife or husband and child or children
- If the victim left no spouse or child behind, then the victim’s parent or parents
- If the victim left no parents behind, then the victim’s heirs (as defined by South Carolina intestacy law).
Keep in mind: Although a wrongful death lawsuit may be brought for the benefit of others, only a court-appointed personal representative has the authority to accept a wrongful death settlement offer in South Carolina.
The personal representative must also go through the process of seeking court approval of the settlement. Under some circumstances, a petition may need to be filed, or a hearing may be necessary.
The personal representative also is ultimately responsible for making sure the settlement proceeds are properly distributed to beneficiaries.
If you are the executor or administrator of your loved one’s estate, Jebaily Law Firm can work closely with you as you pursue wrongful death damages.
What Can You Recover in a South Carolina Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In a wrongful death claim, the goal is to seek compensation for the harm which family members have suffered due to their loved one’s death.
Generally speaking, the types of wrongful death damages which may be sought include:
- Pecuniary (or financial) losses
- Mental shock and suffering
- Wounded feelings
- Grief and sorrow
- Loss of companionship
- Deprivation of the use and comfort of the victim’s society, including the loss of the victim’s experience, knowledge and management of his or her affairs and the affairs of family members.
Pecuniary wrongful death damages typically include medical bills and funeral and burial expenses incurred by family members as well as the loss of the victim’s financial support.
At Jebaily Law Firm, we can review the bills in your case to calculate these damages. We can also consult with experts who can help us to assess, for instance, what financial support the victim would have contributed to the family over his or her remaining life.
Other types of wrongful death damages such as grief, sorrow and loss of companionship can be established by looking at evidence of the victim’s relationship with family members. Family photos, videos and statements by the family members themselves can all prove to be powerful evidence.
In some cases, punitive damages may be pursued as well. These damages are not aimed at compensating family members for their harm. Instead, they seek to punish the at-fault party and deter similar conduct in the future.
The damages awarded in a wrongful death claim should be distributed in the same way the victim’s assets would have been distributed if he or she had died without a will – in other words, according to South Carolina intestacy laws.
What Is the Difference Between Wrongful Death and Survival Claims?
It is important to realize that two related – but separate – legal claims may possibly be pursued in South Carolina if your loved one died due to the wrongful acts of another. In addition to a wrongful death claim, you may be eligible to bring a survival claim as well.
While a wrongful death lawsuit is brought for the benefit of family members, a survival action is brought for the benefit of the victim’s estate (which may ultimately be distributed to family members).
So, instead of seeking compensation for the harm which family members have suffered due to their loved one’s death, a survival action seeks compensation for the harm which the victim suffered between the time of injury and time of death.
The damages which typically are sought in a survival lawsuit include medical expenses and funeral expenses incurred by the victim’s estate (if those are not sought in a wrongful death claim). The lawsuit can also seek compensation for any pain and suffering the victim experienced between the injury and his or her death.
A survival action, like a wrongful death claim, must be brought by or in the name of the executor or administrator of the victim’s estate.
What Are Your Legal Options If Your Loved One’s Death Was Work-Related?
If your loved one died from a work-related injury or illness, you may be able to seek workers’ compensation death benefits.
These benefits are available to a victim’s spouse, children and other dependents. They include coverage of up to $2,500 in funeral and burial expenses. They can also include lost-wage benefits that cover two-thirds of the deceased worker’s average weekly wages for up to 500 weeks (paid on either a weekly basis or, in some cases, one lump sum payment).
If your loved one’s death was caused by someone besides his or her employer or a co-worker, you may be eligible to pursue a wrongful death and/or survival claim in addition to workers’ compensation death benefits. This is called a third-party liability claim.
If a third-party liability claim is successful, the workers’ compensation insurer will likely try to recover the amount it paid in benefits. The insurer may assert a lien on the recovery.
At Jebaily Law Firm, we have extensive experience with handling both workers’ compensation and third-party liability claims. We can also work with insurance companies to resolve any liens on your recovery.
Get Help from Our Florence Wrongful Death Attorneys Today
At Jebaily Law Firm, we know how difficult it is to move forward after the tragic loss of a loved one. When you are ready to take action, we will be ready to get to work for you right away, seeking the answers you deserve and compensation you will need as you move forward.
We serve clients in Florence and throughout South Carolina. Call or reach us online and get started with a free and confidential consultation.