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  • Andrew Littlejohn Johnson

Wrongful Death vs. Survival

If you had a loved one pass away due to a third-party’s actions, there may be a civil avenue to recover for the estate and the surviving family members. The two forms of recovery in these cases are “wrongful death” and “survival.”

In South Carolina, the ultimate difference between these legal theories is that a survival actions is brought by the estate for the damages the decedent sustained, whereas a wrongful-death action is brought by the surviving members of the decedent’s family for the damages they suffered due to the loss of their loved one.

You Take Care of You

First and foremost, this is not a “case with a death angle”; this is a “death with a legal angle.” We understand the delicacy required in these matters. We understand that your grief, anger, and other emotions are likely still manifesting. This is normal. No one wants to go through what you are going through; especially if the death was due to another’s negligence. For these reasons, we are here to guide you through the processes and keep you informed. This allows your focus to stay on yourself and your family, remembering the life of someone you love.

Wrongful Death Damages

When bringing for a wrongful death claim, some family members who have suffered the following losses may recover for the following

  • grief

  • loss of companionship/consortium

  • loss of future income

  • funeral expenses

  • certain medical bills

Recovery in these instances goes directly to those family members who suffered the specific damages.

Survival Actions

In a survival action, the court appoints a personal representative (or "PR") to bring the claim and act on behalf of the Estate. The PR may bring claims against the negligent person for the decedent's suffering, lost earnings, past medical bills. Any recovery for a survival action goes into the Estate and is distributed amount specific surviving family members. Typically, the order of distribution is spouse, then child, then parents, and then other family members. This is case-specific and requires more knowledge of the facts and situations.

How We Can Help

Our representation consists of more than filing papers, writing demands, and collecting checks from insurance companies. When you have a death in the family, you may need assistance in opening an estate and appointing a PR. We can help connect you to a probate attorney for this, which aids in streamlining the recovery process. Also, if a minor child survives, his/her recovery may require the appointment of a guardian or conservator, a trust or annuity, or court approval. We help with this, too.

As will all of our cases, we look into all routes of recovery. An 18-wheeler wreck in Orangeburg may allow for a case against the driver and the trucking company. A DUI wreck in Myrtle Beach may provide liability against the at-fault driver and a local bar that over-served alcohol to that person. Every case requires that we look into making our clients whole by discovering any liable parties. We do just that.

Experienced South Carolina Attorney

Andrew Littlejohn Johnson has handled these cases. It is with no joy that we meet clients due to the death of another person. However, developing the case and helping the family obtain closure and financial recovery is the silver lining in these matters. Not only do we enjoy helping good people, we also appreciate the close relationships that we build with these families. If you lost a loved one due to someone else’s wrongful actions, reach out to Andrew directly: 803-764-4099 | The consultation is free and confidential.


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