Wrongful Death: How It Differs From Personal Injury Claims

Wrongful Death

A wrongful death occurs when a person dies due to the extreme negligence, criminal action, or medical malpractice of another. Wrongful death and personal injury claims are tort cases, but some significant differences exist.

Wrongful Death and Personal Injury Cases: Who Can Receive Compensation?

The wrongful death lawyers at JeffMorrisLawFirm.com work with the loved ones and dependents of the victim to obtain maximum compensation for their suffering. Under South Carolina law, surviving spouses and children can receive compensation. If the victim was providing financial support to their parents, they could also receive something.

In the event that the victim didn’t have a spouse or children, an heir named in their will is eligible for compensation.

Personal injury cases are different since the victim is still alive. The victim will receive compensation, but their loved ones aren’t eligible to receive anything.

What Can You Receive Compensation For?

In personal injury cases, the most common type of compensation is a monetary award that covers medical bills. Some victims also receive compensation for lost wages or pain and suffering.

In a wrongful death case, the victims who have lost a loved one can receive compensation for multiple aspects. They can sue for the cost of any final medical bills, funeral expenses, and loss of support.

Compensation can be significantly higher in a wrongful death case since a spouse or surviving child can receive a financial award that covers the total cost of financial support the deceased would have been able to provide over the years.

Liability and Burden of Proof

In South Carolina, personal injury and wrongful death cases have the same statute of limitations. Victims have three years from the day of the event to file a lawsuit.

Once a victim files a lawsuit, they become known as the plaintiff or claimant and carry the burden of proof. It’s their responsibility to prove that the defendant caused an injury or death through neglect, criminal behavior, or reckless actions.

In both cases, the plaintiff has to prove that the defendant had a reasonable duty to keep the victim safe. They must prove that the defendant breached that duty and that their actions resulted in death or injury.

Timeframe and Settling Out of Court

The timeframe can significantly differ between personal injury and wrongful death cases. Depending on their severity, personal injury cases typically conclude within three months to a year. Reaching a settlement after negotiating with the insurance company within a month or so is possible.

Wrongful death cases take longer because they tend to be more complex. The accusations are more severe, and the process of gathering evidence against the defendant can take longer. Plaintiffs typically ask for higher compensation in a wrongful death case, and cases can last up to two years.

However, it’s not uncommon for both types of tort cases to settle out of court. Insurance companies will typically negotiate a settlement before the case goes to court unless the defendant’s liability is in question.

Criminal Charges

Tort cases differ from criminal charges. However, it’s common for a defendant to face a wrongful death case in civil court and criminal charges. It can happen if the wrongful death resulted from criminal actions or if the defendant was negligent to an extreme degree in the face of severe risk.

The plaintiff also carries the burden of proof in a criminal case, and the goal is to establish that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The burden of proof is higher, but punishment is steeper than in a civil case.

Wrap Up

Losing a loved one is a devastating experience. From a legal and financial perspective, victims can obtain compensation by filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the party that caused the death through their negligent or criminal behavior.

While there are some similarities with personal injury cases, wrongful death cases are more complex, take longer to settle, and typically result in higher compensations.