Economic Damages In A South Carolina Wrongful Death Case

November 15, 2013

Those families in Charleston, South Carolina who have had to endure the horror of an unexpected death in the family understand how unexpected losses can be even harder to accept than those that occurred due to old age or prolonged illness. In these wrongful death cases, families were never given the chance to come to grips with the loss of a loved one because another person’s reckless or negligent conduct cannot be anticipated.

The grief that these families must endure is often compounded by the weight of financial trouble. In South Carolina wrongful death cases, unsuspecting families are often left to face the harsh reality of dealing with deal while struggling with expensive medical bills, funeral expenses and possibly the loss of crucial family income. Though money will not be able to compensate a family for the extent of their loss, it can help relieve crushing financial pressure.

What kinds of damages are awarded in South Carolina wrongful death cases?

In a South Carolina wrongful death claim, damages are awarded to the family to compensate them for their loss, both financial and emotional. Financial losses are categorized as “economic damages” while emotional and other, more abstract harms are known as “noneconomic damages.” Economic damages, which we’ll focus on for now, include not only actual expenses associated with a loved one’s death, but also the loss of a loved one’s future earnings.

Actual expenses

By far the easiest category of damages to calculate includes those based on actual expenses. This means medical bills, hospital expenses, property damage and funeral costs. These expenses are clearly demonstrated through receipts and are seldom up for debate.

Future earnings

Though calculating actual expenses is relatively straightforward, South Carolina law also allows families to recover damages for the economic loss of a person, a much more complicated formula that includes lost wages and even loss of future earnings. Arriving at an exact figure can be challenging in some cases and requires that a South Carolina wrongful death attorney estimate the recently deceased person’s lifespan and multiply that by potential future earnings. This figure is then readjusted to account for the present value of money to reach a final number. The process of determining future economic losses can be somewhat speculative and often sparks protest from the opposing attorney.

Charleston wrongful death lawyer David Aylor understands how the sudden loss of a loved one can lead to emotional as well as financial devastation. If a family member was killed due to the negligent actions of others, it may be helpful to reach out to an experienced lawyer who can guide you through the complexities of a South Carolina wrongful death claim. For more information, contact our office at 843-310-4900.

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