Life is priceless. No amount of money is worth the loss of a person’s life. But in a civilized society, the only way to deal with the wrongful death of a loved one is to make a claim for monetary damages.
The amount of monetary damages appropriate to each claim differs, based on the facts and circumstances of each case. We first identify all “hard” economic losses such as related medical bills and other known monetary losses, such as past lost wages and property losses. We then employ vocational specialists and economists to project monetary losses from future lost employment. The economist calculates a present value figure that compensates for the future monetary losses, based on the person’s life expectancy. (See S.C. Code Ann. 19-1-150, Life Expectancy Table).
The South Carolina Court of Appeals stated in Scott v. Porter, 530 S.E.2d 389, 340 S.C. 158 (S.C.App. 2000):
“Damages recoverable in a wrongful death action include: “(1) Pecuniary loss, (2) mental shock and suffering, (3) wounded feelings, (4) grief and sorrow, (5) loss of companionship, and (6) deprivation of the use and comfort of the intestate’s society, the loss of his experience, knowledge, and judgment in managing the affairs of himself and of his beneficiaries….” F.P. Hubbard & R.L. Felix, The South Carolina Law of Torts 610 (2d ed.1997) (citing Mishoe v. Atlantic Coast Line R.R., 186 S.C. 402, 197 S.E. 97 (1938)).”
Damages are also apportioned to the “Survivorship” portion of a wrongful death claim, if the deceased person suffered conscious pain and suffering.
And finally, if the loss involved a malicious, intentional, or grossly negligent act, punitive damages to punish the wrongdoer, may also be available as an element of damages.
The monetary amounts available differ in every case. The McKnight Law Firm often conducts jury verdict research as part of the process in determining potential jury verdicts in order to help determine an appropriate settlement figure.