Wrongful death can be defined as the “taking of the life of an individual resulting from the willful of negligent act of another person or persons.” Wrongful deaths can include deaths resulting from such accidents as a auto accident or prescribing the wrong medication.

The death of a loved one is devastating. When the death is caused by someone else’s negligence it may cause confusion on top of heartache. The surviving family members of the deceased have legal rights and wrongful death can lead to awarded damages. Who should receive the damages awarded for the wrongful death of a loved one?

The South Carolina Code Section 15-51-20 describes who the beneficiaries of the action for wrongful death. The spouse and or children of the deceased have the right to recovery. If there is no spouse or children then the parent or parents of the deceased have the right to the recovery of the damages. Should there be no spouse, children, or surviving parents, then the right passes on to the heirs of the estate. The amount recovered will be divided along the same lines as the deceased’s assets would be. The settlement must be approved by a probate court, circuit court, or United States District Court.

The Georgia Code Section 51-4-2 describes the beneficiaries of the wrongful death action. The surviving spouse has the immediate right to recovery. If there is no spouse then the right is passed on to the children. This is different from South Carolina. In South Carolina, both the spouse and the children have a right to sue for recovery. In Georgia, the right belongs solely to the spouse. If the spouse decides not to sue for damages, the children may NOT sue. Should damages be awarded, the recovery will be divided evenly amongst the spouse and children, EXCEPT if the deceased has more than two children. The spouse of the deceased cannot receive less than one third of the recovery, no matter how many children the decedent has. If there is no spouse or children then the right to recovery passes on to the estate of the deceased.

Wrongful death suits can be very confusing. An experienced attorney is a must! If your loved one has been the victim of someone else’s negligence, please contact The Kerr Law Firm at 843-785-3330. You may also email us at info@kerrlf.com. We would be honored to assist you with your case.