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The 5 Ws of Wrongful Death Suits


If you have a wrongful death suit on your hands, you may be at a loss as to what to do next.  You may be grieving, and may be lost and confused regarding whether and how to pursue your claim.  Consider the 5 Ws of wrongful death- who, what, when, where, and why- before you turn to the “how”.


A wrongful death suit is filed by the executor or administrator of a deceased person’s estate.  That person is generally named in the person’s estate plan.  Although it’s the executor or administrator that brings the claim, they are actually bringing it on behalf of the deceased person’s surviving family members.  The surviving spouse and children, surviving parents (if there is no spouse or child) and the heirs at law of the deceased person (if there are no parents, spouses, or children) can recover in a wrongful death case.


South Carolina Code of Laws section 15-51-10 defines a “wrongful death” as one that is caused by the “wrongful act, neglect, or default” of another. The wrongful act, neglect, or default that causes the death must be the type of action for which a personal injury claim could be filed if the deceased had lived.  Think of wrongful death suits like a personal injury suit in which the plaintiff is no longer available, and you have a good grasp of what a wrongful death suit is. 


South Carolina, like most states, has a statute of limitations for filing wrongful death suits.  This means you must file before a specific deadline in order to have a viable claim.  In South Carolina, the wrongful death suit must be filed within three years of the date of the deceased person’s death. 


Wrongful death suits are generally filed in the same place as where the death took place.  You would file a wrongful death suit in a South Carolina court. 


If someone has been the victim of a wrongful death, their descendants and family members deserve compensation for what was lost.  Even though it is difficult to assign a cost to a loss of a human life, you may be entitled to funeral and burial expenses, medical bills, lost wages and benefits, property damage, loss of consortium with the deceased person, and pain and suffering.  If someone you love has been the victim of wrongful death, it further means that someone must be held liable for their negligence and participation in the death.  Compensation can both make you whole and function as a penalty against the party responsible for the decedent’s death. 


Many attorneys will claim to be qualified to take on a wrongful death case.  And you may wish to meet with several Columbia wrongful death attorneys before choosing one who will be a good fit for you and your family.  However, the law surrounding wrongful death can be complicated and messy.  Find an attorney with specific experience in wrongful death.  You can find one at The Stanley Law Group.  Call 803-799-4700 and set up a consultation today.

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