Whenever someone dies due to someone else’s negligent or purposeful wrongful actions, that’s called a “wrongful” death. A wrongful death claim can be used to ask the responsible party (or their insurance company) to compensate the victim’s survivors for their losses. Here are some of the most common questions about wrongful death claims in South Dakota.

What’s the difference between a wrongful death and a homicide?

A homicide is a criminal act that leads to someone’s death, while a wrongful death is treated like an accident by the authorities. A wrongful death claim is pursued through civil court as a private action by the deceased’s survivors for compensation, while homicides are prosecuted in criminal court by the state.

Who can file a wrongful death claim?

Every state is a little different. In this state, the deceased’s personal representative can bring the lawsuit, but any proceeds are designated solely to benefit the victim’s spouse and children before anyone else. If there’s no spouse or children, then parents and other next of kin can receive the settlement or award.

What type of damages can be obtained through a wrongful death claim?

Exactly what damages are available in your case may vary, but you can generally claim:

  • Medical expenses related to the victim’s death
  • Reasonable funeral and burial (or cremation) costs for the victim
  • Lost wages and benefits the deceased would have earned had they lived
  • The value of the financial support that the deceased would have contributed to family members
  • The value of the deceased’s personal services (such as caretaking for a parent or caring for the children)
  • The love, companionship and support the deceased would have provided their children, spouse and parents had they lived

Why do wrongful death claims matter?

Wrongful death claims aren’t really about the money. They’re about accountability. Without them, the person or entity responsible for your loved one’s death could face no consequences at all.

If your loved one died due to someone else’s error, neglect or deliberate action, find out more about your legal rights.