A person’s negligence can cause the death of another. In such cases, the deceased’s loved ones often have the right to pursue compensation for the loss.
Recovering damages in South Carolina might require a wrongful death action, survival action or both. Plaintiffs in these cases should understand the difference.
Wrongful death action
Wrongful death involves an element of recklessness or carelessness. Common cases that may permit a wrongful death action include motor vehicle accidents, medical malpractice and slip-and-fall casualties. The family is able to file the suit regardless of the accused’s intentions.
The compensation in these cases covers economic damages that resulted from the death. Typical losses include:
- Funeral expenses
- Medical bills
- Loss of financial support and benefits
- Property damage and repairs
A wrongful death suit can also pursue compensation for noneconomic losses. These damages involve things that are hard to quantify and include the family’s pain and suffering, as well as the loss of emotional support.
In some cases, the courts award punitive damages. This monetary award does not cover any particular loss but serves to punish the defendant and discourage others from similar behavior. The state sets limits for noneconomic and punitive damages in medical malpractice cases, which it updates yearly.
Survival action is similar to wrongful death but slightly different. In this case, the family sues for the damages that the deceased would have requested if the individual had survived. Any financial recovery goes to the deceased’s estate. A survival action is unique because it can pursue compensation for the emotional distress the deceased suffered before dying.
Relatives have to review the circumstances of a case carefully to determine how to file each suit. Making the right choices helps a family pursue maximum compensation.