The Importance of Establishing Negligence in Wrongful Death Cases
Updated: Jun 29
A wrongful death lawsuit in South Carolina is the primary means by which surviving family members recover compensation following the sudden death of a loved one. This lawsuit is brought against the party whose negligence is alleged to have caused the decedent’s death.
In a wrongful death case, several factual elements must be proven before you can obtain compensation. These include showing that you sustained compensable harm and that your loved one’s cause of death was tied to the other party’s actions.
Equally important, however, is showing that the other party’s actions were negligent.
Negligence Defined in South Carolina
Negligence is a legal term that appears frequently in the law but is often misunderstood.
While it’s commonly equated with carelessness, negligence is more nuanced than simply deciding whether someone acted carelessly. This is because what you consider careless behavior may be vastly different from what another person considers carelessness.
Moreover, carelessness can depend on the circumstances of each specific situation. For example, suppose one of your loved ones was killed when a driver ran a red light.
This may be considered a careless act if the driver had sufficient time to safely stop their vehicle but chose instead to run the red light. But it may not be careless if the driver wasn’t speeding and the light changed to red just as they entered the intersection when it was unsafe to suddenly stop.
Similarly, in a medical malpractice case, a newly licensed doctor with little experience cannot and would not be held to the same standard as a doctor with 30 years of experience treating patients in various settings.
Therefore, negligence is more properly understood as a careless act that an objectively reasonable and cautious person wouldn’t have performed under the same circumstances. Negligence considers not only the facts of the situation but also the physical characteristics of the person involved.
Why Proving Negligence Matters in a Wrongful Death Suit
Negligence is an essential element of a wrongful death case. Even if the available evidence clearly shows that the actions of another led to your loved one’s passing, the law doesn’t impose liability on that person unless the act is deemed negligent.
If you can’t prove that the defendant committed a negligent act that led to your loved one’s death, your wrongful death lawsuit will fail. A defendant isn’t likely to settle a suit if there’s no evidence that they acted negligently, and a court won’t return a verdict in your favor if such evidence is not presented.
Thus, as much attention must be paid to proving that the defendant’s actions were negligent as is apportioned to all the other elements of your wrongful death case.
How to Prove Negligence in a Wrongful Death Case
Your South Carolina wrongful death lawyer will go to great lengths to document your losses and prove that the defendant’s actions caused your loved one’s death.
A complete investigation can also reveal evidence showing that the actions that led to your loved one’s passing were negligent. Some of the ways this is done include:
● Looking for laws that were violated
● Reviewing standard procedures or best practices and checking for violations
● Consulting with experts in a relevant field, such as a medical expert in a malpractice case
● Highlighting obvious warning signs or indicators of danger that were disobeyed or disregarded
Your wrongful death attorney will also want to dive into the personal history of the at-fault party.
This includes learning about their age, education, and other relevant information about their background that can help paint an accurate picture of what a reasonable person would have done under the same circumstances.
Why Choosing the Right Wrongful Death Lawyer Matters
A South Carolina attorney who hasn’t handled wrongful death lawsuits regularly may not be aware of the elements they need to prove to prevail in their case. Instead, an unskilled lawyer may simply assume that it’s enough to prove that the defendant’s actions led to your loved one’s passing, assuming that negligence is a given.
This erroneous assumption can keep you and your family members from receiving the compensation you deserve.
West Law, LLC Is Your Charleston Wrongful Death Law Firm
West Law LLC is available to help you through all stages of your wrongful death suit. We know these cases can be tough and that the compensation at stake can mean the difference between security and uncertainty for your family.
Trust West Law LLC to prove every element of your case and help you achieve justice. Contact us today and enlist our help.