Wrongful death occurs under South Dakota law when someone dies due to another’s “wrongful act, neglect, or default.” If the deceased person had lived, he or she would have had the right to pursue a personal injury claim against the negligent party or parties. Since the injury resulted in death, someone else must step in to file a civil claim for the compensation owed to the deceased. Under South Dakota law, this person is the personal representative of the decedent’s estate who files a wrongful death claim for appropriate damages.
Filing a wrongful death claim can often be a traumatizing experience for the survivors who have lost a family member. Often the personal representative is a family member who will likely re-experience the pain and loss of the decedent’s death while undergoing the legal process. However, this can be avoided with the help of Zephier & LaFleur. Our firm can handle the civil claim for you; we are backed by decades of experience resolving such cases for South Dakotans, including Native Americans on our local reservations.
Wrongful death claims commonly arise from traffic accidents or other incidents in which negligence, malice, or some form of wrongdoing was the cause of the person’s death.
Wrongful death claims seek damages that will eventually go to the decedent’s survivors, such as spouses and children or, absent these, parents or next of kin. In the cases of wrongful death against an unborn child, the damages will go to the mother or the married parents of the child.
Wrongful death claims are subject to a statute of limitations that gives you three years from the date of the death to file your claim with the court. If you fail to meet this deadline, you will forfeit your right to seek compensation.
These claims are civil matters that are separate from any criminal charges brought against the wrongdoer. Criminal charges result in criminal penalties, such as jail time, fines, and probation. They do not take into consideration monetary compensation for the survivors.
Your damages in a South Dakota wrongful death claim may include:
- Loss of the income and future earning capacity of the deceased
- Loss of the affection, comfort, support, and guidance of the deceased
- Loss of any household services provided by the deceased
- Pecuniary damages (all quantifiable economic damages)
- Punitive damages
- Life insurance claims
- Medical and burial expenses
- Pension claims
- Social security benefits
- Property damage (if applicable)
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