How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Suit?

How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Suit?

When a loved one is injured or becomes severely ill, most people put their faith in the medical system to care for them as ethically and timely as possible. Unfortunately, there are situations in which someone does not survive due to the negligent or reckless behavior of someone else. Grieving the loss of a loved one is a difficult and painful process. It can be more overwhelming when that person died due to the negligence of another person. If the events leading to their death warrant the filing of a wrongful death suit, you may be wondering if you have time to grieve before beginning that process.

What is a Wrongful Death Suit?

Lawsuits disputing the wrongful death of a loved one can be brought on behalf of the spouse and/or children of the deceased if that person died because of the reckless or deliberate actions of someone else. In South Carolina, this is allowed thanks to S.C. Code § 15-51-10. Sometimes, thinking of a wrongful death suit like a personal injury suit, in which the injured party cannot testify for themselves, may help give some context to how these suits work.

Like all lawsuits, there are various events that can warrant filing a wrongful death claim. Here are some events that could justify claiming wrongful death:

  • Deaths that occur due to negligence (car accidents, etc.)
  • Intentional acts that result in death
  • Medical malpractice

Wrongful death cases differ from criminal homicide cases in that the defendant is only liable to compensate the grieving family financially in a wrongful death case but may be subject to a prison sentence or more if convicted for homicide.

What Type of Compensation Could I Be Eligible for in a Wrongful Death Suit?

If you win a wrongful death suit, the court will require the defendant to pay damages to you. You can claim various things such as:

  • Funeral expenses and cremation/burial expenses
  • Expenses and medical bills related to the injury that killed the deceased
  • Lost wages due to caring for the deceased and their affairs
  • Loss of the person’s knowledge and experience
  • Loss of the person’s companionship or protection
  • Pain and suffering the deceased’s loved ones experienced

The damages that could be paid out upon a successful wrongful death suit are meant to alleviate some of the pain brought on by the loss of a loved one due to the negligence or intent of someone else. They are also intended to punish the person who caused the death and deter others from becoming involved in similar behavior in the future.

What is the Statute of Limitations for a Wrongful Death Suit?

A statute of limitations determines the time window in which you can bring a certain type of legal action against another entity. In South Carolina, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death suit is three years from the time of death. This statute can be extended to six years if the wrongful death occurred because of medical malpractice. For example, if your loved one died in a car accident due to faulty brakes on behalf of the manufacturer, you would have three years from the time the accident occurred to file your case.

It is worth noting that your case does not need to be completed within three years, but the initial filing must take place within that time frame. If you fail to file your wrongful death case within the statute of limitations, you may be subject to the following:

  • Your case may be dismissed when submitted
  • The opposition may ask for the case to be dismissed if it’s filed past the deadline, and a judge may approve the dismissal
  • You may be liable for all the damages incurred (medical bills, etc.) because of the death of your loved one

Don’t Wait to File Your Case

If you have experienced the death of a loved one due to the negligence, malintent, or malpractice of someone else, reach out to an attorney as soon as possible. An investigation into the events surrounding the death of your loved one may take a lot of time, especially if there are multiple parties that could be held responsible. In addition, some evidence, such as dashboard camera footage, may be time sensitive. Statements from any witnesses are most effective when taken as close to the incident as possible because they may forget or misremember things if asked too late.

Contact an Attorney Today

If you have any questions surrounding the death of a loved one and you believe that their death could justify a wrongful death lawsuit, please contact Pierce, Sloan, Kennedy, & Early LLC today. At our firm, we understand the courage it takes to speak out when you believe the death of a loved one was due to the mistakes of another party, and we handle such cases with empathy and decades of experience on our side. We will work effectively and efficiently towards winning you the compensation you are entitled to because of the loss of your loved one.

Our firm can be reached at (843) 968-0886, or you can fill out our contact form. All of our initial consultations are free, and we look forward to speaking with you.


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