Top 10 Questions about Wrongful Death
If someone you know has been the victim of a wrongful death, you may have many questions. Consider these top ten questions about wrongful death in South Carolina.
- What Is Wrongful Death?
When a family member’s death is caused by another person’s negligence or wrongful act, a surviving family member can bring the claim on behalf of the estate and survivors. Essentially, you are alleging that someone else was at fault for the decedent’s death and that person should pay damages, or compensation, to make up for it.
- Is There a Time Limit to File?
Yes, wrongful death suits must be filed within three years of the wrongful death in order to be viable in court. If it’s been more than three years, still consult with an attorney to see if anything can be done to preserve your claim.
- Who Can File for Wrongful Death?
If damages are awarded, they will be awarded first to the surviving spouse or children, then, if there are none, to the surviving parents of the deceased, then, if there are none, to other lawful heirs.
- What Kinds of Damages Are Awarded?
Common claims for which people may be compensated are for funeral expenses, property damage or financial loss, medical bills, loss of consortium, pain and suffering, and even other types of damages.
- What Kinds of Events Can Cause Wrongful Death?
Many kinds! Car accidents, slip and fall accidents, workplace accidents, medical malpractice, and even criminal conduct can cause wrongful deaths. There are many other examples as well.
- Is Compensation for Wrongful Death Taxable?
IRS Publication 4345 states wrongful death damages fall into the category of compensation for physical injuries and are therefore income tax-free for the survivors.
- How Long Do Wrongful Death Cases Take?
Cases can be settled quickly, but others can take many years. Some things that affect how long a wrongful death case takes are insurance on the part of the parties, arguments about liability (who is responsible), and times when insurance adjusters and companies offer very little money as a settlement, therefore forcing the case to go to trial.
- What Is the Burden of Proof in a Wrongful Death Case?
The burden of proof in a wrongful death case is called a preponderance of the evidence standard. That means that liability for the death must be proved more likely than not. This is different from a criminal standard, where the proof must be beyond a reasonable doubt.
- What Is a Survival Action?
Conscious pain and suffering of the decedent gives the heirs the ability to recover in what is known as a survival action. This can be filed in addition to a wrongful death suit.
- Where Can I Find an Attorney?
Many attorneys will accept a wrongful death case, but few have actual experience litigating one. You’ll want an experienced professional at your side to litigate your rights and interests in court. You can contact a Columbia wrongful death attorney with experience at The Stanley Law Group. Call 803-799-4700 and set up a consultation today.