Columbia Wrongful Death Lawyers
The death of a family member is difficult to deal with, even when it’s expected and of natural causes. When death is unexpected it can become even more painful. And perhaps worst of all is the death that could have been avoided. This latter category is when families can have recourse through a civil lawsuit and our Columbia, SC wrongful death lawyers can advise and lead them in making their case.
Mann Blake & Jackson has taken on challenging cases against powerful clients and come out victorious on the other side. We’ve won settlements of $50 million and higher. And while past success can never guarantee a future outcome, our track record can assure clients that they’re in the hands of attorneys who know how to investigate, negotiate, and litigate. From our Columbia office, we serve all of South Carolina. Call today at (803) 525-1645 or contact us online to set up a consultation.
What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A wrongful death lawsuit has most of the same fundamentals as any other form of personal injury lawsuit. That means proving the defendant was negligent—that they had a duty of care to the deceased plaintiff, that they failed to exercise reasonable care in carrying out that duty and that this failure caused the death.
The most notable difference though, is how the lawsuit is filed. Since the actual victim is deceased, the lawsuit has to be brought by someone else. In the state of South Carolina, that someone else must be the executor of the deceased’s estate. This is a person that the deceased designates in their last will and testament. If no will exists, a court can appoint an executor, who can then file the wrongful death lawsuit. Please note that it is the family of the victim that will still collect the settlement and it is the family But the executor will have to be the party that formally brings the lawsuit in court.
The final part of negligence is demonstrating the scope of the damages that the defendant’s failure to exercise reasonable care caused. In this case, because the plaintiff—the family of the deceased—was not the one injured, they have to work with their Columbia, SC wrongful death attorney to demonstrate how much was lost—both financially and otherwise—by the death of their loved one. Wrongful death cases can be filed for anything ranging from a car accident to medical malpractice and a whole lot more. It’s worth noting that they can wrongful death cases can also be filed in cases where criminal charges are involved.
A famous example is the O.J. Simpson trial in 1994. Simpson was acquitted in criminal court on the charge of murdering Nicole Brown Simpson (his ex-wife) and Ronald Goldman. But the Goldman family also filed a wrongful death lawsuit in civil court and obtained a settlement of over $33 million.
One reason is that a criminal trial requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt of the defendant’s guilt. But in civil court, a jury must only be convinced that it’s more likely than not, that the defendant is guilty. It’s the difference between being roughly 50.1 percent sure of something and 95 percent sure of something. Families of the victims of crime do not need to wait on a District Attorney to file charges or for the criminal trial process to run its course. A wrongful death lawsuit can at least aim to provide some level of compensation for the loss of their loved one.
A jury in a civil wrongful death lawsuit can award three types of damages—economic, non-economic and punitive.
This is where the financial impact of the death can be measured. The costs of medical treatment, funeral and burial are all prime examples of economic damages .But this can also involve calculating the loss of income that could be reasonably expected to have been earned. What if the victim was on an upward career trajectory, and that trajectory could be confirmed with witness testimony from supervisors and colleagues?
At the very least, the victim might have been reasonably expected to earn their current salary, plus cost of living increases until they reached retirement age. A Columbia, SC wrongful death lawyer can work to get this included in the final settlement.
Sometimes called “pain and suffering” these are damages that you can’t truly put a dollar value on, but the South Carolina court system is obligated to at least try. Family members and friends can bring forth testimony demonstrating what they have lost. The operative legal phrases here are “experience, knowledge and judgment”, along with “care, companionship and protection”. This is what the loss of a parent, a spouse, a significant other or other beloved family member leaves us missing.
The first two types of damages are geared toward the impact of the loss of the deceased. Punitive damages are aimed at the defendant. They are also called exemplary damages, because the purpose is to make an example of the defendant. The plaintiff’s legal counsel must show that the defendant acted with “willful, wanton and reckless” disregard for human life. It is not necessary for the death to have been deliberate, only for the negligence to have risen to this extreme level.
A jury, speaking on behalf of society, can express its outrage by awarding punitive damages. This is most common in cases of corporate malfeasance, and applies generally in cases where a jury believes a strong statement may deter future offenders.
Relentless Lawyers for Serious Cases
At Mann Blake & Jackson, we take pride in taking on difficult cases where the stakes are high, and our clients are depending on us for diligent footwork and passionate advocacy. We’ve won big settlements, to the $50 million level and higher. We want to fight for you too.
We've Fought and Beaten Government Agencies
We've recovered over $100M in verdicts, settlements, and awards for our clients, much of that against government agencies. We know what you're facing, and we're the team to help you win.
These Cases Are Close to Home For Us
Not only are we North and South Carolina attorneys, but our families, friends, and neighbors have fallen victim to the injustices at Camp Lejeune. We'll fight vigorously for you and your family not just because it's the right thing to do, but because we've been hurt by this too.
We Know How to Protect and Service Our ClientsWe've fought for whistleblowers. We've fought for catastrophic injury victims. We know this can feel like a daunting road, but we have the experience and know what it takes to provide you the justice you deserve.
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