What Is The Difference Between Wrongful Death Action and Survival Action in South Carolina?


As personal injury lawyers in Rock Hill, South Carolina, we know that there is no amount of compensation that will erase the devastation you and your family experience after the loss of a loved one in an accident. When someone causes the death of a family member due to negligence or intentional harm, a wrongful death claim will most likely ensue. In this article, we will explain the differences between wrongful death actions and survival actions in South Carolina.


South Carolina law provides two separate causes of action: (1) wrongful death actions, and (2) survival actions. A wrongful death action is a civil action against someone who can be held liable for injuries such as negligence, assault or battery that caused someone’s death.

In South Carolina, wrongful death claims can only be brought by or in the name of the executor or administrator of the estate. Upon receiving a verdict or settlement, the executor or administrator distributes the proceeds according to the South Carolina wrongful death statute.

The South Carolina statutes on wrongful death make the line of succession for inheritance very clear. Under Title 15 – Chapter 51 Article 1 Section 15-51-20:

Every such action shall be for the benefit of the wife or husband and child or children of the person whose death shall have been so caused, and, if there be no such wife, husband, child or children, then for the benefit of the parent or parents, and if there be none such, then for the benefit of the heirs of the person whose death shall have been so caused. Every such action shall be brought by or in the name of the executor or administrator of such person.


Under Title 15 Chapter 51 Article 1 Section 15-51-10, South Carolina defines survival actions as:

Whenever the death of a person shall be caused by the wrongful act, neglect or default of another and the act, neglect or default is such as would, if death had not ensued, have entitled the party injured to maintain an action and recover damages in respect thereof, the person who would have been liable, if death had not ensued, shall be liable to an action for damages, notwithstanding the death of the person injured, although the death shall have been caused under such circumstances as make the killing in law a felony. In the event of the death of the wrongdoer, such cause of action shall survive against his personal representative.

Under South Carolina law, a survival action is a statute that allows the estate of the deceased to sue for injuries or damages suffered immediately before he died. A survival action is a claim for injuries and damages that the deceased suffered prior to death, and which the deceased could have pursued had he/she lived.

The death of a loved one is an emotional time for you and your family and it is important to contact a personal injury attorney to discuss the rights you are afforded under South Carolina law. Contact the Lewis Law Firm for a free consultation to review your case.

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