What is a wrongful death lawsuit?

Nihar Patel | The Carolina Law Group
Nihar Patel | The Carolina Law Group

A wrongful death occurs when someone is killed because of the negligence or misconduct of another party. When such a death occurs, a lawsuit may be brought against the party at fault. An example of a recent, high-profile example is the wrongful death lawsuit brought over the death of Breonna Taylor, which resulted in a settlement of $12 million from the city of Louisville, Kentucky.

What is a wrongful death lawsuit?

And how does a wrongful death lawsuit work? A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil suit where one party sues the party it believes is responsible for the death of the deceased.

This is different from a criminal suit, where the state is the plaintiff that brings the suit against the party believed responsible. They are not mutually exclusive, meaning that there can be both a criminal and a civil suit relating to the same death.

When is a wrongful death claim applicable?

Most wrongful deaths are unexpected and tragic. However, a wrongful death claim is not applicable to every unexpected and tragic death. What is wrongful death? The death must be the result of the negligence or misconduct of another party, not simply a tragic accident.

A wrongful death suit must also be brought before the statute of limitations runs out – in South Carolina, with some exceptions, you must bring the suit within three years.

Who can sue for wrongful death?

In South Carolina, a wrongful death suit can only be brought by “by or in the name of the executor or administrator” of the deceased, as described in Section 15-51-20 of the South Carolina Code. This is done for the benefit of the survivors, in the following order: spouse and child(ren); if none, parent(s); if none, other heirs.

Wrongful death damages

As stated above, the suit is brought for the benefit of the surviving heirs of the deceased. Three kinds of damages are available in wrongful death suits in South Carolina: economic damages, noneconomic damages, and punitive (exemplary) damages.

Economic damages include compensation for funeral and burial costs, related medical bills, and loss of income of the deceased. Noneconomic damages include pain and suffering, loss of consortium (companionship), and such. Punitive damages are intended to punish the party at fault and may be awarded by the court in certain cases.

Considerations when hiring a wrongful death lawyer

If you’re wondering “What is a wrongful death lawsuit?” then you may also be considering bringing such a suit over the death of a loved one. If so, you need an attorney by your side with the experience and knowledge to help you get the compensation you deserve. While many lawsuits end in a settlement, some go to trial, so it’s important to look for an attorney with extensive litigation experience. You also want to work with someone who has handled cases similar to yours in the past. Finally, being a party to a lawsuit can be a long and emotional experience. You want an attorney on your side who’s accessible and who keeps you informed every step of the way.

The wrongful death attorneys at The Carolina Law Group have the experience you want in a wrongful death lawyer and pride themselves on being accessible and prioritizing communication with their clients. They’re ready to fight for you during this difficult time. Call today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation at one of the numbers below.

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



Mr. Patel worked for the Greenville County Public Defender’s Office in 2005 after graduating from law school. While there, Mr. Patel handled thousands of cases ranging from low-level misdemeanors to high-profile murders. In March 2011, Mr. Patel and Mr. Desai formed The Carolina Law Group. Mr. Patel practices in the areas of criminal defense, family law, and personal injury. In 2011, Mr. Patel was elected as the President of the Greenville Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (GACDL).

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