Should you wish to read the laws of the state of South Carolina which apply to wrongful death caused by someone, we have provided the various sections of South Carolina’s laws here for your information.
If you or a loved one have died or suffered an injury as a result of another’s negligence and wish to speak with an attorney regarding your situation to learn how these laws may apply in your situation, please contact Attorney Jody McKnight.
§ 15-51-10. Civil action for wrongful act causing death
Whenever the death of a person shall be caused by the wrongful act, neglect or default of another and the act, neglect or default is such as would, if death had not ensued, have entitled the party injured to maintain an action and recover damages in respect thereof, the person who would have been liable, if death had not ensued, shall be liable to an action for damages, notwithstanding the death of the person injured, although the death shall have been caused under such circumstances as make the killing in law a felony. In the event of the death of the wrongdoer, such cause of action shall survive against his personal representative.
Cite as S.C. Code § 15-51-10
§ 15-5-100. Damages under Sections 15-5-90 or 15-51-10 may include funeral expenses
Damages recoverable under either Sections 15-5-90 or 15-51-10 may include reasonable funeral expenses, but such funeral expenses shall be sought in only one action.
Cite as S.C. Code § 15-5-100
§ 15-51-60. Effect of action prior to death
The provisions of this article shall not apply to any case in which the person injured has, for such injury, brought action, which has proceeded to trial and final judgment before his or her death.
Cite as S.C. Code § 15-51-60
§ 15-51-50. Liability for costs
The executor or administrator, plaintiff in the action, shall be liable to costs in case there be a verdict for the defendant or nonsuit or discontinuance, out of the goods, chattels and lands of the testator or intestate, if any.
Cite as S.C. Code § 15-51-50
§ 15-51-42. Approval of settlements of wrongful death or survival actions
(A) Only a duly appointed personal representative, as defined in Section 62-1-201(30) , shall have the authority to settle wrongful death or survival actions.
(B) If no action is pending, the personal representative shall petition either the probate or the circuit court of this State seeking approval of a proposed settlement. The petition must be verified by the personal representative and shall set forth, in terms satisfactory to the court in which the petition is filed, the basic facts surrounding the death of the decedent, the pertinent facts surrounding the liability of the alleged wrongdoer, the amount of insurance available to pay for damages, the terms of the proposed settlement, the statutory beneficiaries of the wrongful death or survival action, the heirs at law or appropriate devisees of the estate, the appropriate creditors, the amount of their claims, and, if the personal representative has retained legal counsel, the terms and provisions of the agreement with respect to attorney’s fees and costs.
It is not necessary that a personal representative be represented by legal counsel for the court to consider the petition and approve the settlement. If the personal representative is represented by legal counsel, the counsel shall sign a certificate attesting to the fact that he is of the opinion that the settlement is fair and reasonable and in the best interests of the statutory beneficiaries and, in a survival action, the estate of the decedent.
The court shall schedule a hearing and receive into evidence those facts that the court considers necessary and proper to evaluate the settlement. After conducting this inquiry, the court shall issue its order either approving or disapproving the proposed settlement. If the settlement is approved by the court, the personal representative has the power to conclude the settlement, including the execution of those documents as the settlement terms contemplate.
(C) If a wrongful death or survival action has been filed in state court and:
(1) the settlement agreement between the parties is reached before the matters reach trial, the personal representative shall petition the court in which the wrongful death or survival action has been filed and follow the procedure for settlement as provided in (B) above;
(2) the settlement agreement is reached during the trial, or after trial but before notice of appeal is filed, of either the wrongful death or survival action, then no petition is necessary, and the court shall conduct a hearing, at which the parties may present to the court the pertinent facts and information, including that information required in subsection (B) above, which the court may require in order to consider whether to approve or disapprove the settlement. If the court finds the settlement is fair and reasonable and in the best interests of the statutory beneficiaries and, in a survival action, the estate of the decedent, then the court shall issue its order approving the settlement;
(3) the settlement agreement is reached after notice of appeal is filed, the personal representative shall petition the appellate court before which the matter is pending to remand the case to the circuit court for consideration of the settlement agreement in accordance with the procedure outlined in (2) above.
(D) For any actions pending in the federal courts, the same procedure may be followed, but the federal court, at its discretion, may issue an order transferring the case to state court for consideration of the proposed settlement.
(E) Once a settlement agreement has been approved by an appropriate court, the person paying the settlement proceeds and all those on whose behalf the payment is made and any other persons who could be responsible because of the actions on whose behalf the settlement proceeds are being paid, are relieved and discharged from further liability and shall have no obligation or legal duty to see to the appropriate or proper distribution of the settlement proceeds among either the wrongful-death beneficiaries or those entitled to the proceeds of the settlement of the survival action. Once payment has been made to the personal representative, the obligations of the person making the payment and those on whose behalf the payment is being made, and all those who could be responsible for the actions of these persons, are fully and completely released and finally and forever discharged from any further responsibility in connection with the action or actions.
(F) Any person bringing a wrongful death or survival action in a court other than the probate court must notify the probate court of this action within ten days after the filing of the action. The provisions of this subsection apply to wrongful death or survival actions filed after the effective date of this section.
(G) When the administration of an estate is final except for the administration of survival action proceeds because of the pendency of a survival action brought on behalf of the estate, the probate court may issue, upon petition by the personal representative, a special order providing that no accountings are required until the survival action is settled or verdict rendered in a trial. The attorney for the personal representative must notify the probate court immediately upon completion of the survival action and furnish the court with a copy of the order approving settlement or a copy of the judgment, whichever is appropriate.
Cite as S.C. Code § 15-51-42
§ 15-51-40. Damages; amount and to whom payable
In every such action the jury may give damages, including exemplary damages when the wrongful act, neglect, or default was the result of recklessness, wilfulness, or malice, as they may think proportioned to the injury resulting from the death to the parties respectively for whom and for whose benefit such action shall be brought. The amount so recovered shall be divided among the before-mentioned parties in those shares as they would have been entitled to if the deceased had died intestate and the amount recovered had been personal assets of his or her estate. However, upon motion by either parent or any other party of potential interest based upon the decedent having died intestate, the probate court may deny or limit either or both parent’s entitlement for a share of the proceeds if the court determines, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the parent or parents failed to reasonably provide support for the decedent as defined in Section 63-5-20 and did not otherwise provide for the needs of the decedent during his or her minority.
Cite as S.C. Code § 15-51-40
§ 15-51-30. Effect of illegitimacy
In the event of the death of an illegitimate child or the mother of an illegitimate child by the wrongful or negligent act of another, such illegitimate child or the mother or father or the heirs at law or the distributees of such illegitimate child shall have the same rights and remedies in regard to such wrongful or negligent act as though such illegitimate child had been born in lawful wedlock.
Cite as S.C. Code § 15-51-30
§ 15-51-20. Beneficiaries of action for wrongful death; by whom brought
Every such action shall be for the benefit of the wife or husband and child or children of the person whose death shall have been so caused, and, if there be no such wife, husband, child or children, then for the benefit of the parent or parents, and if there be none such, then for the benefit of the heirs of the person whose death shall have been so caused. Every such action shall be brought by or in the name of the executor or administrator of such person.
Cite as S.C. Code § 15-51-20
§ 62-4-302. Jurisdiction by act of decedent
In addition to jurisdiction conferred by Section 62-4-301 , a foreign personal representative is subject to the jurisdiction of the courts of this State to the same extent that his decedent was subject to jurisdiction immediately prior to death.
For the context of Section 62-4-302, see comment to Section 62-4-301 . Section 62-4-302 subjects the foreign personal representative to jurisdiction on the basis of his decedent’s immediate pre-death condition or activities, whether the decedent was domiciled, doing business, or maintaining his principal place of business in South Carolina (see Section 36-2-802 Code) of the 1976 Code or engaged in conduct encompassed in South Carolina’s ‘long-arm’ statutes (see Sections 36-2-803 , 15-5-130 , 15-5-140 , and 15-9-350 , et seq.). As to survival of causes of action, see Sections 15-5-90 , 15-51-10 , et seq., and 35-1-1520 of the 1976 Code.
Uniform Commercial Code Section 36-2-801 might be read to subject a personal representative ‘whether or not a citizen or domiciliary of this State,’ including a foreign personal representative, to the jurisdiction of the South Carolina courts. Section 62-4-302 settles any doubt as to the foreign personal representative’s immunity from suit.
Section 62-4-302 should be read with Sections 15-5-130 and 15-5-140 as augmenting and simplifying the process available to persons involved in South Carolina in automobile accidents also involving deceased nonresident motorists. Section 62-4-302 allows for suit directly against the foreign personal representative.
Cite as S.C. Code § 62-4-302
History. Amended by 2013 S.C. Acts, Act No. 100 ( SB 143), s 1, eff. 1/1/2014.
§ 62-2-803. Effect of homicide on intestate succession, wills, joint assets, life insurance, and beneficiary designations
(a) An individual who feloniously and intentionally kills the decedent is not entitled to any benefits under the decedent’s will, trust of which the decedent is a grantor or under this article with respect to the decedent’s estate, including, but not limited to, an intestate share, an elective share, an omitted spouse’s share or child’s share, a homestead allowance, and exempt property, and the estate of the decedent passes as if the killer had predeceased the decedent. Property appointed by the will of the decedent to or for the benefit of the killer passes as if the killer had predeceased the decedent.
(b) Any joint tenant who feloniously and intentionally kills another joint tenant thereby effects a severance of the interest of the decedent so that the share of the decedent passes as the decedent’s property and the killer has no rights by survivorship. This provision applies to joint tenancies in real and personal property, joint and multiple-party accounts in banks, savings and loan associations, credit unions, and other institutions, and any other form of co-ownership with survivorship incidents.
(c) A named beneficiary of a bond, life insurance policy, retirement plan, annuity, or other contractual arrangement who feloniously and intentionally kills the principal obligee or the individual upon whose life the policy is issued is not entitled to any benefit under the bond, policy, retirement plan, annuity, or other contractual arrangement, and it becomes payable as though the killer had predeceased the decedent.
(d) Any other acquisition of property or interest by the killer shall be treated in accordance with the principles of this section. A beneficiary whose interest is increased as a result of feloniously and intentionally killing shall be treated in accordance with the principles of this section.
(e) The felonious and intentional killing of the decedent revokes the nomination of the killer in a will or other document nominating or appointing the killer to serve in any fiduciary capacity or representative capacity, including, but not limited to, as personal representative, trustee, agent or guardian.
(f) A final judgment by conviction, or guilty plea establishing criminal accountability of felonious and intentional killing the decedent conclusively establishes that the convicted individual feloniously and intentionally killed the decedent for purposes of this section. In the absence of such final judgment the court, upon the petition of an interested person, must determine whether, upon the preponderance of the evidence standard, the individual would be found responsible for the felonious and intentional killing of the decedent. If the court determines that, under that standard, the individual would be responsible for the felonious and intentional killing of the decedent, the determination conclusively establishes that individual as the decedent’s killer for purposes of this section.
(g) This section does not affect the rights of any person who, before rights under this section have been adjudicated, purchases from the killer, for value and without notice, property which the killer would have acquired except for this section, but the killer is liable for the amount of the proceeds or the value of the property. Any insurance company, bank, or other obligor making payment according to the terms of its policy or obligation is not liable by reason of this section unless prior to payment it has received at its home office or principal address written notice of a claim under this section.
(h) If an individual feloniously and intentionally kills the decedent, and if the killer dies within one hundred twenty hours of the decedent’s death, then the decedent shall be deemed to have survived the killer for purposes of distributing the killer’s estate, including, but not limited to, property passing by intestacy, the killer’s will, any trust of which the killer is a grantor, joint tenancy with right of survivorship and benefits payable under a life insurance policy, retirement plan, annuity or other contractual arrangement.
Section 62-2-803, subsections (a) through (e), governs the effects of the proof of a putative successor’s felonious and intentional killing of a decedent upon whose death some matter of succession depends. Under this Code, such a killer is disabled from taking the succession and the succession proceeds as if the killer had predeceased the decedent. Under Section 62-2-803(f), a final judgment of conviction or a guilty plea of felonious and intentional killing conclusively invokes the operation of Section 62-2-803, but the lack of a conviction is no bar to invocation of the provision where the killing is proved by the preponderance of the evidence.
At common law, according to the maxim that ‘no one shall be permitted to profit by his own … wrong,’ Smith v. Todd, 155 S.C. 323, 152 S.E. 506 (1930), those, who were by the preponderance of the evidence, Smith v. Todd, supra, proven to have feloniously, Smith v. Todd, supra; and Keels v. Atlantic Coast Line R. Co., 159 S.C. 520, 157 S.E. 834 (1931), and intentionally, i.e., maliciously and not merely recklessly or involuntarily, Leggette v. Smith, 226 S.C. 403, 85 S.E.2d 576 (1955), but see Fowler v. Fowler, 242 S.C. 252, 254, 130 S.E.2d 568 (1963), killed another, were disabled from taking in succession to their victim, whether by their being named as the beneficiary of a policy of life insurance on their victim, Smith v. Todd, supra, or of employment death benefits with respect to their victim, Keels, supra, or by their taking in intestacy from their victim, or otherwise, Leggette v. Smith, supra. The maxim applied and the civilly proven killer was disabled from taking notwithstanding that on the criminal side he had been convicted of involuntary manslaughter, Keels, supra, or had been acquitted of crime, Leggette v. Smith, supra.
Former Section 21-1-50 of the 1976 Code was enacted, importantly, in supplementation of the common law maxim disabling a killer from taking in succession to his victim, and was enacted merely in order to establish a conclusive presumption of the disablement of the killer in the single specified case of his criminal court conviction of an unlawful killing, Sections 16-3-10 and 16-3-50 of the 1976 Code and Rasor v. Rasor, 173 S.C. 365, 175 S.E. 545 (1934), presumably because of the higher standard of proof bound to have been imposed in that proceeding; not including coroner’s convictions, Smith v. Todd, supra, nor including, of course, complete acquittals, Leggette v. Smith, supra, nor involuntary manslaughter convictions, Keels, supra, Sections 16-3-50 and 16-3-60 of the 1976 Code, but, perhaps, including other reckless homicide convictions, Section 56-5-2910 of the 1976 Code, unlawful albeit unintended, i.e., nonmalicious and involuntary. See Fowler v. Fowler, supra, at 254 and C. Karesh, Survey of South Carolina Law, 8 S.C.L.Q. 150 (1955) and E. McCrackin, Inheritance–Unintentional Killing, 7 S.C.L.Q. 475 (1955).
The thrust of Section 62-2-803 is meant to encompass not only the intended unlawful killing cases covered by former Section 21-1-50 of the 1976 Code, but also the cases left to the common law maxim. See Section 62-2-803(d). Perhaps the common law maxim retains some validity, as under Section 62-1-103 , with respect to cases of killings or of succession, not covered by Section 62-2-803, if any. For instance, perhaps the common law maxim will yet apply to deprive unintended but reckless homicides of the benefits of the Wrongful Death Act, Sections 15-51-10 , 15-51-20 of the 1976 Code et seq. See Fowler v. Fowler, supra at 254 but compare Leggette v. Smith, supra.
Under Section 62-2-803, subsections (a) through (d), the effect of the proving of the killing is not only to disable the killer from taking in succession but also to redirect the succession so that the matter proceeds as if the killer had predeceased the decedent.
Section 62-2-803 (g) provides for the protection, from the claims of the takers on the redirected succession, of obligors who pay benefits to a killer without notice of such claims and also for the protection, from such claims, of purchasers from a killer, for value and without notice, who purchase before the adjudication of such claims.
In protecting the killer’s subsequent purchasers, for value and without notice, Section 62-2-803 (g), having first established the theoretical base that the killer is deprived by his crime of all legal title in the property which the killer would have acquired except for this section, the interest then, however, accords to the killer’s subsequent purchasers, for value and without notice, in whom presumably later mere equitable title arises, the kind of protection against the claims of the earlier legal title claimants, i.e., those who take the redirected succession under Section 2-803. Thus, Section 62-2-803 (g) carves out a further statutory exception to the common law rule of priority.
Cite as S.C. Code § 62-2-803
History. Amended by 2013 S.C. Acts, Act No. 100 ( SB 143), s 1, eff. 1/1/2014.
Wrongful Death Actions are subject to non-economic damages limits, not set forth here, but more fully set forth in Title 15, Chapter 32 of the S.C. Code. See definition inclusion below:
Title 15. Civil Remedies and Procedures
Chapter 32. NONECONOMIC DAMAGE AWARDS
Article 3. NONECONOMIC DAMAGE AWARDS
Current through 2014 Act No. 295
§ 15-32-210. Definitions
As used in this article, unless the context clearly requires otherwise:
(1) “Ambulatory surgical facility” means a licensed, distinct, freestanding, self-contained entity that is organized, administered, equipped, and operated exclusively for the purpose of performing surgical procedures or related care, treatment, procedures, and/or services, by licensed health care providers, for which patients are scheduled to arrive, receive surgery or related care, treatment, procedures, and/or services, and be discharged on the same day. This term does not include abortion clinics.
(2) “Claimant” means the person suffering personal injury.
(3) “Economic damages” means pecuniary damages arising from medical expenses and medical care, rehabilitation services, costs associated with education, custodial care, loss of earnings and earning capacity, loss of income, burial costs, loss of use of property, costs of repair or replacement of property, costs of obtaining substitute domestic services, a claim for loss of spousal services, loss of employment, loss of business or employment opportunities, loss of retirement income, and other monetary losses.
(4) “Health care institution” means an ambulatory surgical facility, a hospital, an institutional general infirmary, a nursing home, and a renal dialysis facility.
(5) “Health care provider” means a physician, surgeon, osteopath, nurse, oral surgeon, dentist, pharmacist, chiropractor, optometrist, podiatrist, or similar category of licensed health care provider, including a health care practice, association, partnership, or other legal entity.
(6) “Hospital” means a licensed facility with an organized medical staff to maintain and operate organized facilities and services to accommodate two or more nonrelated persons for the diagnosis, treatment, and care of such persons over a period exceeding twenty-four hours and provides medical and surgical care of acute illness, injury, or infirmity and may provide obstetrical care, and in which all diagnoses, treatment, or care are administered by or performed under the direction of persons currently licensed to practice medicine and surgery in the State of South Carolina. This term includes a hospital that provides specialized service for one type of care, such as tuberculosis, maternity, or orthopedics.
(7) “Institutional general infirmary” means a licensed facility which is established within the jurisdiction of a larger nonmedical institution and which maintains and operates organized facilities and services to accommodate two or more nonrelated students, residents, or inmates with illness, injury, or infirmity for a period exceeding twenty-four hours for the diagnosis, treatment, and care of such persons and which provides medical, surgical, and professional nursing care, and in which all diagnoses, treatment, or care are administered by or performed under the direction of persons currently licensed to practice medicine and surgery in the State of South Carolina.
(8) “Medical malpractice” means doing that which the reasonably prudent health care provider or health care institution would not do or not doing that which the reasonably prudent health care provider or health care institution would do in the same or similar circumstances.
(9) “Noneconomic damages” means nonpecuniary damages arising from pain, suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, disfigurement, mental anguish, emotional distress, loss of society and companionship, loss of consortium, injury to reputation, humiliation, other nonpecuniary damages, and any other theory of damages including, but not limited to, fear of loss, illness, or injury.
(10) “Nursing home” means a licensed facility with an organized nursing staff to maintain and operate organized facilities and services to accommodate two or more unrelated persons over a period exceeding twenty-four hours which is operated either in connection with a hospital or as a freestanding facility for the express or implied purpose of providing skilled nursing services for persons who are not in need of hospital care. This term does not include assisted living, independent living, or community residential care facilities that do not provide skilled nursing services.
(11) “Personal injury” means injuries to the person including, but not limited to, bodily injuries, mental distress or suffering, loss of wages, loss of services, loss of consortium, wrongful death, survival, and other noneconomic damages and actual economic damages.
(12) “Personal injury action” means an action for personal injury, including a wrongful death action pursuant to Sections 15-51-10 through 15-51-60 and a survival action pursuant to Section 15-5-90 . (emphasis added)
(13) “Renal dialysis facility” means an outpatient facility which offers staff assisted dialysis or training and supported services for self-dialysis to end-stage renal disease patients.
(14) “Skilled nursing services” means services that:
(a) are ordered by a physician;
(b) require the skills of technical or professional personnel such as registered nurses, licensed practical (vocational) nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech pathologists or audiologists; and
(c) are furnished directly by, or under the supervision of such personnel.
Cite as S.C. Code § 15-32-210
§ 15-3-530. Three years
Within three years:
(1) an action upon a contract, obligation, or liability, express or implied, excepting those provided for in Section 15-3-520 ;
(2) an action upon a liability created by statute other than a penalty or forfeiture;
(3) an action for trespass upon or damage to real property;
(4) an action for taking, detaining, or injuring any goods or chattels including an action for the specific recovery of personal property;
(5) an action for assault, battery, or any injury to the person or rights of another, not arising on contract and not enumerated by law, and those provided for in Section 15-3-545 ;
(6) an action under Sections 15-51-10 to 15-51-60 for death by wrongful act, the period to begin to run upon the death of the person on account of whose death the action is brought; (emphasis added)
(7) any action for relief on the ground of fraud in cases which prior to the adoption of the Code of Civil Procedure in 1870 were solely cognizable by the court of chancery, the cause of action in the case not considered to have accrued until the discovery by the aggrieved party of the facts constituting the fraud;
(8) an action on any policy of insurance, either fire or life, whereby any person or property, resident or situate in this State, may be or may have been insured, or for or on account of any loss arising under the policy, any clause, condition, or limitation contained in the policy to the contrary notwithstanding; and
(9) an action against directors or stockholders of a monied corporation or a banking association to recover a penalty or forfeiture imposed or to enforce a liability created by law, the cause of action in the case not considered to have accrued until the discovery by the aggrieved party of the facts upon which the penalty or forfeiture attached or the liability was created, unless otherwise provided in the law under which the corporation is organized.
Cite as S.C. Code § 15-3-530