Myrtle Beach Wrongful Death Lawyer
Few events can shake entire families quite like the unexpected death of a loved one. When a person is suddenly killed, the family that is left behind must then struggle to make up for the loss of financial and emotional support that the loved one once provided.
South Carolina Code § 15-51-10 defines a wrongful death as a fatality “caused by the wrongful act, neglect or default of another.” Certain family members can pursue wrongful death claims against the negligent parties responsible for their loved one’s deaths.
The immediate aftermath of a person’s death can create enormous emotional strain for the people closest to the victim, but it is important to remember that the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is not unlimited. Family members often need to act quickly in order to preserve their claims.
Was your loved one killed in any kind of accident caused by another party’s negligence in the Myrtle Beach area? Do not wait to retain legal counsel. Law Office of William J. Luse can handle all of the required paperwork and court appearances on your behalf so you can take all the time you need to grieve. Call (843) 839-4795 or fill out an online contact form to have our Myrtle Beach wrongful death attorney review your case and help you understand all of your legal options during a free consultation.
Why Do I Need a Wrongful Death Lawyer?
You may think or even know that your loved one’s death was the fault of another party, but you should not expect the insurance company representing that individual or entity to be willing to admit as much. In most cases, insurers will pin the blame for an accident squarely on the deceased, and deny liability.
Not all claims are the same, and some insurance companies may quickly offer proposed settlements to resolve these claims. In most cases, these offers are dramatically less than what the families are actually entitled to.
It is in your best interest to hire an attorney to assist in your wrongful death claim. An attorney can conduct an independent investigation of your loved one’s accident to determine the cause and collect key evidence.
After the investigation, the attorney can then negotiate with the insurance company for the liable party to try and achieve a just settlement. Your lawyer can handle all conversations with insurers on your behalf to ensure that you do not inadvertently say anything that damages your claim.
Why Choose Law Office of William J. Luse?
William J. Luse has over a dozen years of legal experience and is licensed in state courts throughout South Carolina as well as the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. He has been included among the 10 Best Attorneys from the American Institute of Personal Injury Attorneys, won the 10 Best Client Satisfaction Award from the American Institute of Personal Injury Attorneys, and was named a Top Ten Personal Injury Attorney by Attorney and Practice Magazine.
The Law Office of William J. Luse also makes it a top priority to really get to know more about their clients so we can tell their full story in court. It is our firm’s belief that the most personal aspects of a victim’s story will resonate with a jury far more than just a simple listing of injuries.
We are committed to helping people recover all of the compensation they are entitled to. If an insurance company cannot provide a truly fair and full settlement, our firm can file a lawsuit to try your case in court.
Do not let concerns about money prevent you from seeking legal representation. Law Office of William J. Luse represents clients on a contingency fee basis, so no fees are owed unless you obtain a monetary award.
Wrongful Death Cases We Handle
Under South Carolina Code § 15-51-20, a wrongful death claim must be brought by the executor or administrator of the deceased person’s estate. The same statute also establishes that a wrongful death action is for the benefit of:
- the deceased’s spouse and child or children,
- the deceased’s parent or parents if no there is no spouse, child or children, or
- the heirs of the deceased when none of the above-mentioned parties exist.
If none of these parties are alive, there can be no wrongful death action.
A wrongful death can stem from any one of a number of possible accidents, including but not limited to:
- Car Accidents
- Commercial Truck Accidents
- Workplace Accidents
- Medical Malpractice
- Nursing Home Negligence
- Bus Accidents
- Motorcycle Accidents
- Bicycle Accidents
- Pedestrian Accidents
- Slip and Fall Accidents
- Ridesharing (Uber or Lyft) Accidents
- Drunk or Drugged Driving Accidents
- Toxic Mold
People could be awarded damages for funeral and burial expenses, medical expenses, and emotional distress in a wrongful death action. In a very limited number of cases, a jury could also award punitive damages (sometimes referred to as exemplary damages) if a person is killed by a defendant’s willful, reckless, or wanton conduct, but punitive damages cannot exceed three times the amount of compensatory damages or $500,000, whichever is greater.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a survival action?
South Carolina Code § 15-5-90 allows the estate of a deceased person, rather than the executor or administrator of the estate, to file a legal claim for injuries the deceased suffered prior to their death. Damages awarded in survival actions are limited to the injuries a person suffered during or prior to their death but do not factor in expenses that the family is likely to incur. Damages could include medical bills or pain and suffering, but it can be difficult to prove that a deceased person experienced such pain and suffering. Awards in survival actions must be distributed according to the will of the deceased or state intestacy laws.
What will the person filing a wrongful death claim have to prove?
Most wrongful death actions will require the plaintiffs to prove the same four central elements of a negligence claim by a preponderance of the evidence, which basically means that more than half of the evidence supports the plaintiff’s claims. A preponderance of the evidence is a much lower burden than the beyond a reasonable doubt standard used in criminal cases. The four elements of a negligence claim are that a defendant had a duty of care to the victim, the defendant breached that duty of care, the breach of care caused the victim’s death, and the victim’s death caused damages.
How long do I have to file a wrongful death lawsuit?
South Carolina Code § 15-3-530 gives people three years to file wrongful death actions. The limitations period begins on the date of the person’s death, not necessarily the date of their accident. You do not want to wait to begin taking action with a wrongful death claim because important evidence is often time-sensitive and waiting too long may make it impossible to pursue a claim.
Wrongful Death Statistics
The South Carolina Department of Public Safety (SCDPS) reported that there were 776 fatal traffic crashes in 2018, 16 more than the 760 reported in 2017. SCDPS also reported that 831 people were killed in these crashes in 2018, 15 more than the 816 reported in 2017.
The 2016 South Carolina Traffic Collision Fact Book reported that there is one traffic collision in South Carolina every 3.7 minutes, and one fatal collision every 9.3 hours. One person is killed every 8.6 hours. One person is killed in a drunk driving crash involving a blood or breath alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher every 26.5 hours. One teen driver is involved in a fatal or injury collision every 1.3 hours. One bicyclist is killed every 15.3 days. One motorcyclist is killed every 2.5 days. One pedestrian is killed every 2.5 days. One child under six years of age is killed every eight days.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that there were 117 fatal occupational injuries in South Carolina in 2015. Of these, 17 were the result of violence and other injuries by persons or animals, 54 were the result of transportation incidents, three were the result of fires and explosions, 16 were the result of falls, slips, or trips, 10 were the result of exposure to harmful substances or environments, and 17 were the result of contact with objects and equipment. Of these fatalities, 87 were wage and salary employees while 30 were self-employed, and 103 victims were men and 14 were women.
According to the BLS, 36 of the victims were 45 to 54 years of age, 22 of the victims were 35 to 44 years of age, 21 of the victims were 55 to 64 years of age, 15 of the victims were 65 years of age and over, 14 of the victims were 25 to 34 years of age, seven of the victims were 20 to 24 years of age, and one of the victims was 18 to 19 years of age. The BLS reported that 69 of the victims were white (non-Hispanic), 33 were black of African-American (non-Hispanic), ten were Hispanic or Latino, and three were Asian (non-Hispanic).
Contact a Myrtle Beach Wrongful Death Attorney Today
If your loved one was killed in an accident caused by another party’s negligence in Myrtle Beach, make sure that you do not wait to explore your legal options. An experienced personal injury lawyer will know how to investigate and prove your wrongful death claim. Law Office of William J. Luse represents clients in Myrtle Beach, Socastee, Conway, Little River, North Myrtle Beach, Surfside Beach, and surrounding areas of Georgetown County, Marion County, and Horry County. You can have our attorney provide a complete evaluation of your case when you call (843) 839-4795 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.