How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Paid Out?

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If you have lost a loved one, you may benefit from a wrongful death claim. It’s important to know how wrongful death settlements are paid out. Understanding how the payout works can help you plan and know what to expect as your case proceeds.

Our wrongful death lawyer in Greenville at Bobby Jones Law explains how wrongful settlements are paid out in South Carolina.

How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Paid Out in South Carolina?

Wrongful death settlements are paid out in South Carolina to the beneficiaries recognized by law. Among the beneficiaries, funds are distributed as though the victim had died without a will.

See (S.C. Code § 15-51-40).

Wrongful death payouts in South Carolina

Surviving Family Wrongful Death Distribution
Spouse but no children Spouse gets everything
Spouse and one child Split 50-50
Spouse and multiple children Spouse gets 50%, children split 50% equally
No spouse, but children Children split equally
No spouse or children, but parents Parents*
No spouse, children, or parents Heirs

*The court may deny recovery to a parent upon motion if the parent failed to provide support for the deceased while they were a minor child.

The entire wrongful death claim is brought in one court action. The victim’s executor brings the case on behalf of the beneficiaries. The parties may reach a settlement, or the jury may decide the case.

Damages are payable based on the losses that result to the beneficiaries because of the loss of their family member. Then, the amounts are distributed based on the relationship between each survivor and the victim. South Carolina law determines who gets what based on who survives the victim.

It may seem unfair that splitting the award doesn’t consider the personal circumstances of each beneficiary. After all, damages are payable based on the losses of the beneficiaries. However, distribution is made under South Carolina wrongful death law as though the victim had died without a will.

What if the beneficiaries don’t receive compensation? Who pays for costs for a wrongful death claim?

In South Carolina, if a wrongful death claim doesn’t result in an award for the beneficiaries, and there is liability for costs, the executor pays costs. Costs are paid from the goods, chattels, and land of the victim. (S.C. Code § 15-51-50).

Does the executor benefit from a wrongful death claim?

No, the executor doesn’t benefit from a wrongful death claim unless they are also a surviving family member. Only the people listed in the law receive funds from a wrongful death claim.

Court Approval Required for Wrongful Death Settlement in South Carolina

Settlement of a wrongful death case in South Carolina must be approved by a court before a payout can occur. (S.C. Code § 15-51-41). The parties must petition the court, explaining the circumstances surrounding the death and the basic facts of the case.

The parties must explain the terms of the settlement, the beneficiaries, whether the personal representative has a lawyer, and the lawyer’s fees and costs. The lawyer must sign a certificate that the settlement is reasonable and in the best interests of the beneficiaries.

The court will conduct a hearing before approving the settlement. The court may approve or deny the settlement. If approved, final documents may be executed, and payout may occur. (S.C. Code § 15-51-42).

If the parties settle the case during trial, or after trial but before appeal, a petition isn’t necessary. However, the court will still conduct a hearing. If the case is pending in a federal court, the court may transfer the case to state court for purposes of the settlement.

How You’ll Receive Your Wrongful Death Payout

You may receive your wrongful death payout as a lump sum within a certain number of days following execution of a settlement or jury award.

If your wrongful death case reaches a settlement, you may agree to receive compensation through a structured settlement. In that case, you will receive periodic payments according to the terms of the settlement. The Structured Settlement Protection Act, S.C. Code § 15-50-10 may apply to transfer of the structured settlement.

Either an adult or a child may receive their wrongful death payout in the form of a structured settlement.

Your lawyer can help you negotiate the terms and understand what to expect as you receive your payout.

Wrongful Death Settlements and Minor Children

Beneficiaries of a wrongful death settlement are often children. South Carolina has laws for judgments and settlements to protect the interests of the child. If funds for a minor child exceed $15,000, the court must appoint a conservator. Even when there is a conservator, the settlement can still be in the form of a structured settlement. (See S.C. Code § 62-5-103).

Differences in other states

Remember, these are the rules for wrongful death settlement payouts in South Carolina. There are significant differences between states.

Get Answers From a Wrongful Death Lawyer in South Carolina

When you have questions such as:

Can I receive a wrongful death payout?

How do other family members impact my wrongful death funds?

When it’s time to receive my payout, how does it arrive?

Is a structured wrongful death payment right for me?

We can help.

For a personalized consultation about your case, we invite you to contact Robert “Bobby” Jones of Bobby Jones Law. He can give you a personalized evaluation of your situation and what may occur with regards to your wrongful death payout.

Bobby Jones Law handles wrongful death claims, and our law firm can assist you in claiming the payout that you deserve. Call or message us now.

The team at Bobby Jones Law LLC works tirelessly for the injured in South Carolina. His achievements include:
  • More than $60 million collected for our clients
  • Multiple recoveries exceeding $1 million, including an eight-figure settlement
  • Recognized by Best Lawyers in America
  • Named among the “Best Law Firms” by U.S. News & World Report
  • Named to the Top 100 Trial Lawyers by The National Trial Lawyers
  • Named to Super Lawyers 2017–2024
  • Member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum
  • Selected as Legal Elite of the Upstate 2021–2023
We’re humbled to be considered one of the top firms in the Upstate and invite you to learn what sets our award-winning legal services apart. Call or request a consultation online.
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