The Difference Between a Wrongful Death and Survival Action in South Carolina

If a loved one dies in a car crash or other type of accident, you may be able to pursue legal action against the at-fault party. Depending on the facts of the case, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit and/or a survival action. While both types of claims arise from an accident or injury that resulted in death, there are some important differences between the two.

Generally, a wrongful death lawsuit allows close family members of a deceased person to bring a claim for the losses that they have suffered – such as funeral expenses, mental anguish, and loss of support or companionship. By contrast, a survival action is brought on behalf of the estate and seeks compensation for the losses that the deceased person suffered between the time of the accident and their death. It may be possible to bring both a wrongful death claim and a survival action after a fatal accident.

The Derrick Law Office represents individuals and families in all types of personal injury matters. We offer free initial consultations, and never charge a fee unless we recover money for you. Reach out today to schedule a case evaluation with an experienced South Carolina wrongful death attorney.

What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Under South Carolina law, close family members may bring a wrongful death action against a person or entity whose negligence caused their loved one’s death. Any type of accident can be the basis for a wrongful death lawsuit, including car accidents, motorcycle crashes, nursing home abuse and neglect, dog bites, slip and falls, and truck accidents. If a person dies because of someone else’s careless, reckless, or intentional behavior, their survivors may be able to pursue this type of claim.

The goal of a wrongful death lawsuit is to compensate survivors for the losses associated with their loved one’s death. They may seek money for both their current and future expenses associated with the death, such as:

  • Medical bills
  • Property damage
  • Loss of financial support, including benefits
  • Loss of services
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of support or companionship
  • Funeral expenses
  • Punitive damages, in cases involving intentional or reckless conduct (such as drunk driving accidents)

In South Carolina, the surviving spouse and children (if any) can file a wrongful death lawsuit. If the deceased person did not have a surviving spouse or children, then their parents can bring a claim. If their parents are not living, then their heirs – anyone who could inherit from them – can bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault party.

The important thing to remember about a wrongful death lawsuit is that it is meant to compensate the surviving family members for their losses. If you have any questions about your rights related to this type of claim, schedule a free consultation with a South Carolina wrongful death lawyer. 

What Is a Survival Action?

A survival action is different from a wrongful death lawsuit in one key way: it compensates an estate for the losses that a deceased person suffered before they died. While any money recovered might ultimately go to the deceased person’s heirs through inheritance, the goal of this type of claim is to recover financial compensation for what the deceased person experienced before they died.

Survival actions can only be brought if a deceased person survived for some period of time between their accident and death. They seek compensation for any losses that the deceased person suffered during that time, including pain and suffering, emotional distress, medical expenses, and funeral expenses (unless recovered through a wrongful death lawsuit).  

Survival actions are brought on behalf of the deceased person, rather than the survivors. For this reason, there is no recovery for any damages suffered after death (other than funeral expenses). Generally, the executor of the deceased person’s estate brings a survival action. Any damages recovered go to the estate, and will then be used to pay debts and/or will be distributed among the heirs.

Wrongful death actions are often brought in conjunction with survival actions. As long as the deceased person survived for some amount of time after an accident, then a survival action can typically be brought. Together, these two types of legal claims may help loved ones recover the compensation that they need to move forward with their lives after a tragic loss.

How Our Law Firm Can Help

When a loved one dies, the last thing that most people want to think about is taking legal action. If their death was caused by another person, however, filing a wrongful death and/or survival action may help you find a measure of justice. It may also provide you with the financial stability that you need.

The Derrick Law Office is committed to advocating for injury victims and their loved ones throughout South Carolina. We handle all cases on a contingency fee basis so that you don’t have to worry about how you’ll pay for a lawyer during a difficult time. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation with a South Carolina wrongful death attorney, give our law firm a call at 864-531-7765 or fill out our online contact form.