Skip to Content
Smith & Griffith, LLP Smith & Griffith, LLP
Free Consultation: 864-477-7395

Pursuing a wrongful death claim if the negligent party dies


Pursuing a wrongful death claim if the negligent party dies

The CDC reported that there are over 200,000 wrongful deaths each year in the United States. When negligence causes the death of a person, it is a tragic situation that may give rise to a wrongful death claim. This allows the surviving family members to seek damages against the responsible individual. However, the death of the negligent party can complicate matters.

In the event the negligent person dies before legal action can commence, you may fear that you have lost your chance to receive compensation. However, South Carolina law establishes options for people in this situation.

Survival action takes effect

Just because a negligent party dies, it does not mean the legal action against them necessarily disappears. This is due to the legal doctrine known as “survival action.” This is a broad standard allowing for legal actions to continue even if a person involved dies.

In the case of wrongful death, it permits you as a surviving relative to pursue your claim. The next question is who you will litigate to receive damages.

Contesting the estate

When people die, they generally leave an estate. This consists of the assets they owned at the time of their death. So under South Carolina law, you may bring your claim against the estate of the negligent party.

According to state law, only a personal representative appointed by the court possesses the authority to settle a wrongful death claim or a survival action. Once the estate for the negligent party has a representative in place, you should be able to commence legal action. The representative will either defend the estate against your claim or work out a settlement.

If your claim is successful, your suit will reap an award from the assets owned by the estate. Despite the complexity of some wrongful death cases, it is possible to persevere in a quest for justice.