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Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Suit in South Carolina?

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Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Suit in South Carolina?

Matt Whitehead | Attorney, The Carolina Law Group

Matt Whitehead | Attorney, The Carolina Law Group

The South Carolina Department of Corrections recently settled a wrongful death suit for $250,000 after the death of inmate Otis Bland, who was stabbed by other inmates at the Broad River Correctional Institution in Columbia in August 2017. A wrongful death suit is being brought against the Sea Pines Country Club in Hilton Head over the death of Cassandra Cline who was attacked and killed by an alligator on the property in August 2018.

As we’ve covered in a previous blog, a wrongful death suit is a civil action that is brought against the wrongdoer responsible – an individual or an entity – for the death of a person in a manner such that, had the deceased survived, they would have been able to bring a personal injury claim against the wrongdoer at fault. The death may be due to the “wrongful act, neglect or default” of the wrongdoer.

Someone, of course, must bring the claim on behalf of the deceased. The question is, who may do so under the law?

Bringing a Wrongful Death Suit in South Carolina

According to South Carolina Code, a wrongful death suit may only be brought by the executor or administrator (personal representative) of the deceased, or in their name. If the deceased left no will naming a personal representative, the court will appoint one. The suit is brought for the benefit of the heirs of the deceased, in the following order: “the wife or husband and child or children,” and if none then for “the parent or parents,” and if none then for the heirs.

Damages may include compensation for funeral and burial costs, lost wages, medical care before death (if any), and the like. South Carolina also allows for exemplary damages in cases where the death was the result of “recklessness, willfulness, or malice.” It is up to the jury to decide what amount is in proportion to the injury done to the surviving heirs. Damages recovered are divided among these parties as if the deceased had died intestate (without a will), according to South Carolina law.

If the claim is against an individual, and that individual has also died, the claim may still go forward against their personal representative. Because time is of the essence in these types of cases it is important to consult an experienced attorney as early as possible to discuss your rights, as well as the applicable Statute of Limitations.

Get Help with Your Wrongful Death Claim

Has a loved one died in an accident that was caused by an individual or entity? If so, you may want to consider bringing a wrongful death claim against the responsible party. The personal injury attorneys at The Carolina Law Group can help you with your claim and are ready to fight for what you’re entitled to after the loss of your loved one. Schedule your free, no-obligation consultation today by calling one of the numbers below.  

The Carolina Law Group has four offices in upstate South Carolina for your convenience: Greenville (principal office; call 864.312.4444), West Greenville (864.312.4444), Greer (principal office; call 864.757.5555), and Spartanburg (principal office; call 864.757.5555). Call today.


Matt is a graduate of the South Carolina’s Honors College and the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina where he obtained an undergraduate degree in Business Administration. Matt later obtained a Juris Doctor degree from the University of South Carolina School of Law where was a member of the South Carolina Law Review and the legal fraternity Phi Alpha Delta. Matt’s education and experience provides valuable insight into how insurance companies approach the litigation process. This allows Matt to closely work with his clients in protecting their legal rights from the initial claim stage through trial.

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