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Wrongful Death Attorney

How to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Do you know what to do if a family member’s death is “caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another?”  (South Carolina Code of Laws, Title 15, chapter 51, Article 1, Section 15-51-10) You may be entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit against them, which may allow you to collect monetary damages due to your loved one’s untimely death.

Two things must be proven by family members in order to file a wrongful death lawsuit:

  • That the death was caused by another person’s wrongful act, neglect or default; and not by the decedent’s own actions.
  • That the surviving family members are directly impacted financially and emotionally due to the death.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in South Carolina?

In South Carolina, the personal representative of the decedent’s estate must file the lawsuit. If there is no estate plan to name the personal representative, or that person does not wish to serve, or cannot serve, the court can name a personal representative.

The personal representative brings the claim to court on behalf of the deceased person’s family members. These family members can include:

  • Surviving spouse and children
  • Surviving parents, if there is no spouse or child
  • The heirs at law, if no living spouse, child or parents

Damages Awarded in a Successful Wrongful Death Claim:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Medical bills and other expenses related to the decedent’s final illness or injury
  • Lost wages and benefits
  • Property damages and other financial losses related to the death
  • Loss of the deceased person’s experience, knowledge, and judgment
  • Loss of the deceased person’s care, companionship, and protection, and
  • Pain, suffering, and mental anguish suffered by the surviving family members
  • The court may award exemplary damages (punitive damages) if the conduct that caused the death was reckless or deliberate

Time Limits to File

In South Carolina, the statute of limitations (legal time limit) to file a wrongful death suit is usually two or three years from the date of the deceased person’s death, depending on what type of facility treated your loved one. A claim that is filed after the two or three year period will typically not be heard by the court.

Contact the Law Offices of David L. Hood for a Free Wrongful Death Consultation

If someone you care about has died due to someone else’s negligence, please schedule your free consultation by calling the Law Offices of David L. Hood at (843) 491-6025 or filling out our brief online contact form.

We know how difficult it can be to deal with the immediate and long-term effects of a wrongful death. At the Law Offices of David L. Hood, we work hard to make things simple for you. After a free case evaluation, if we believe we can help you and your family, Wrongful Death Attorney David L. Hood, co-counsel, and our team of experts will vigorously pursue your case to get you the best result we can achieve. Let us put our years of experience to work for you!

*Clients are not liable for any expenses, unless there is a recovery in their case; however, if there is a recovery in their case, clients will be liable for expenses. Attorney’s fees are based on a percentage of the recovery, which will be computed before deducting expenses.

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Wrongful Death Attorney

Ikea Sued for $46 Million after Toddler Killed by Dresser

The family of toddler Jozef Dudek sued Ikea after a recalled 70-pound “Malm” dresser tipped over on him, causing his death in 2017. Ikea agreed to pay Jozef’s parents $46 million.

“The furniture maker issued a recall for millions of Malm products in 2016 after the deaths of three children…” A combined settlement of $50 million was reached with the families of those children in December of 2016.(NBCNews.com)

Furniture tip-overs can happen when children climb on furniture to access things out of their reach.

Nancy Cowles, executive director of Kids In Danger said, “The first known death from Ikea tipping furniture was in July 1989 – 30 years ago. Those deaths continue.”(CBSNews.com)

At a recent news conference, “parents-turned-activists called out…Ikea…and U.S. Regulators for acting too little and too late in addressing an issue linked to the deaths of at least 10 children.”

Janet McGee of Parents Against Tip-Overs (PAT) said her son Ted was the eighth child reported to have been killed by an Ikea dresser. At that time, the company finally issued a recall for the unstable dressers, telling customers that the dressers need to be anchored to a wall to keep them from tipping over.

“After two children’s deaths in 2014, Ikea warned owners of the dressers to anchor them to a wall, and offered free repair kits. At that time, there was no recall. Only after reports of more injuries and deaths did Ikea finally recall all Malm dressers and chests, along with some additional dressers, in June of 2016.

Cowles said that in the past three years, since the recall, “Ikea has done little to promote the recall or encourage consumers to remove the deadly dressers from homes. Instead, they continue their education campaign, reminding consumers to secure the unstable dressers to the wall.”

Ikea says owners of the recalled dressers should stop using them and contact Ikea (https://www.ikea.com/us/en/customer-service/product-support/recalls/following-an-additional-child-fatality-ikea-recalls-29-million-malm-and-other-models-of-chests-pub4128a7af). Customers will be given the option of a refund or a free kit to anchor the furniture to a wall. Ikea is offering free in-home anchoring service by request. Ikea will pick-up the recalled dresser for free, for those who want a refund.

Contact the Law Offices of David L. Hood for a Free Wrongful Death Consultation

If someone you care about has died due to someone else’s negligence, please schedule your free consultation by calling the Law Offices of David L. Hood at (843) 491-6025 or filling out our brief online contact form.

We know how difficult it can be to deal with the immediate and long-term effects of a wrongful death. At the Law Offices of David L. Hood, we work hard to make things simple for you. After a free case evaluation, if we believe we can help you and your family, Wrongful Death Attorney David L. Hood, co-counsel, and our team of experts will vigorously pursue your case to get you the best result we can achieve. Let us put our years of experience to work for you!

*Clients are not liable for any expenses, unless there is a recovery in their case; however, if there is a recovery in their case, clients will be liable for expenses. Attorney’s fees are based on a percentage of the recovery, which will be computed before deducting expenses.

Other online resources used to write this article:

https://edition.cnn.com/2017/11/21/health/ikea-dresser-recall-eighth-child-death/index.html

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Wrongful Death Attorney

Improper Restraint Causes Death of Mental Health Patient

A South Carolina Department of Mental Health patient died earlier this year when staff improperly restrained him, suffocating him to death.

William Avant, a 35-year-old Georgetown native, had been a patient at the G. Werber Bryan Psychiatric Hospital in Columbia, South Carolina for 12 years. Records show that he “had been diagnosed with Klinefelter syndrome, a chromosomal disorder that’s linked with anxiety, depression, learning disabilities and poor impulse control.” (Newsweek.com)

On January 22 staff tried to console Avant when he became agitated and started kicking a glass window. He then rushed toward a medication room and tried to push the door open. Staff members pushed him to the ground face-down, and The State reports that video shows seven staff members pinned Mr. Avant to the ground. “The four sitting on his arms and midsection didn’t get up until public safety officers arrived, four minutes later. When they turned Avant over, he was blue in the face and had no pulse. Staffers performed CPR but were unable to resuscitate him.” He was pronounced dead at Prisma Health Richland Hospital in Columbia.

Mr. Avant’s death was ruled a homicide by suffocation by Richland County Coroner Gary Watts, who said the actions of the staff directly caused his death. The staff did not follow protocol on physically restraining patients. (CampusSafety.com)

An investigation by The State found that three of the staff “involved in the incident had not undergone adequate training on physically restraining a patient. The training manual for the South Carolina Department of Mental Health advises employees consistently monitor the breathing of any patient being restrained.” The manual says specifically: “Never lie across their head, neck, back or chest, as this may exert pressure to their chest and interfere with their breathing.” The manual also says patients should remain on their side, NOT in a position with their chest facing the floor.

This negligence on behalf of employees of the Department of Mental Health “raises questions about the management of employees, training and overall patient care.”

Anna Maria Darwin, at attorney for Protection and Advocacy for People with Disabilities said it is inexcusable that employees departed from the protocol they were trained to follow. “I don’t understand that at all…If you knew better, and you should have known better–either it’s very poor judgment or you knowingly disregarded your training–you’re not appropriate to provide direct care to people, especially vulnerable adults.” (TheState.com)

Kimberly Tissot, Able SC Executive Director (Able SC provides independent living services to people with disabilities) said that restraints are highly controversial, and even dangerous when used on disabled individuals. “Mr. Avant’s death was completely preventable.”

Because of their actions in Avant’s death, several employees at Bryan Psychiatric Hospital were suspended, and the entire hospital staff was retrained. The Department’s policy on restraining patients was also revised to explicitly ban the kind of treatment Avant received.

According to his obituary, Avant “loved art and drawing for his friends and family. William was the life of the party and enjoyed performing card tricks and entertaining everyone, especially his nieces and nephews. He was a huge Garth Brooks fan and loved listening to his music. He was a gentle soul that will be missed by many.”

Contact the Law Offices of David L. Hood for a Free Wrongful Death Consultation

If someone you care about has died due to someone else’s negligence, please schedule your free consultation by calling the Law Offices of David L. Hood at (843) 491-6025 or filling out our brief online contact form.

We know how difficult it can be to deal with the immediate and long-term effects of a wrongful death. At the Law Offices of David L. Hood, we work hard to make things simple for you. After a free case evaluation, if we believe we can help you and your family, Wrongful Death Attorney David L. Hood, co-counsel, and our team of experts will vigorously pursue your case to get you the best result we can achieve. Let us put our years of experience to work for you!

*Clients are not liable for any expenses, unless there is a recovery in their case; however, if there is a recovery in their case, clients will be liable for expenses. Attorney’s fees are based on a percentage of the recovery, which will be computed before deducting expenses.

Other online resources used for this article:

https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/quality/death-of-improperly-restrained-patient-ruled-homicide-in-south-carolina.html

https://www.greenvilleonline.com/story/news/2019/07/29/sc-mental-health-patient-suffocated-staff-sued-agency-release/1857454001/

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Wrongful Death Attorney

New Technology Makes South Carolina Railroads Safer

In 2008, a federal law was passed to require railroad companies to implement Positive Train Control (PTC) – “a system that combines GPS, wireless radio and computers to monitor trains and stop them from colliding, derailing or speeding” by 2015. (CNN.com) PTC compensates for human error by monitoring train positions and track conditions.

Unfortunately, in October of 2015, Congress extended the deadline to December 31, 2018. Another extension to 2020 was granted at the end of 2018 to railroad companies that met certain criteria.

Because this requirement had not yet been met, in February of 2018 two Amtrak employees were killed and over 100 passengers injured in Cayce, South Carolina, when an Amtrak passenger train crashed into a stopped engine on the tracks. At the time, crews were ironically installing PTC on two engines sitting on the track.

An investigation into this accident revealed that “a switch left in the wrong position, which caused the Amtrak train to reroute onto a side track, where two CSX engines sat while railroad crews worked [was to blame]. A signal that would have warned the moving train’s operators of the out-place-switch was also turned off by the crew working the railroad.” (The State)

Robert Sumwalt, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board in Columbia, SC said that a fully functional PTC could have kept this accident from happening. “That is what it is designed to do.”

In SC, new equipment, including PTC is now installed and operational in all trains and rails operated by CSX and Norfolk Southern, the two major railroad companies in SC. Also, Amtrak says the technology required for this equipment to work is operational on all of its trains that go through SC.

Nationwide, CSX, Norfolk Southern, and other major railroads are working toward having the PTC system fully functional by the 2020 deadline. $10.5 billion has already been spent on installing PTC by the railroad industry. The Association of American Railroads reports that it will cost hundreds of millions a year to maintain the system.

Other safety standards have also been changed, as a result of the 2018 accident:

  • CSX hired a new chief safety officer
  • CSX redesigned safety training
  • CSX strengthened rules and testing
  • CSX has made it easier for employees to report safety issues
  • “The Federal Railroad Administration enacted an emergency order to reduce train speeds in areas where switches and signals may be an issue.”

These safety measures came too late for Christine Cella, whose husband died in the 2018 Amtrak crash. Cella filed and settled a wrongful death suit against CSX and Amtrak for negligence and safety failures.

Contact the Law Offices of David L. Hood for a Free Wrongful Death Consultation

If someone you care about has died due to someone else’s negligence, please schedule your free consultation by calling the Law Offices of David L. Hood at (843) 491-6025 or filling out our brief online contact form.

We know how difficult it can be to deal with the immediate and long-term effects of a wrongful death. At the Law Offices of David L. Hood, we work hard to make things simple for you. After a free case evaluation, if we believe we can help you and your family, Wrongful Death Attorney David L. Hood, co-counsel, and our team of experts will vigorously pursue your case to get you the best result we can achieve. Let us put our years of experience to work for you!

*Clients are not liable for any expenses, unless there is a recovery in their case; however, if there is a recovery in their case, clients will be liable for expenses. Attorney’s fees are based on a percentage of the recovery, which will be computed before deducting expenses.

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Wrongful Death Attorney

South Carolina Motocross Facilities Unregulated

Thirteen-year-old Patrick Terry was killed in December of 2014 in a horrible accident that never should have happened. Patrick’s father, Ed Terry has sued Club MX in Chesterfield, SC for the wrongful death of his son.

Patrick had begged his dad to take him to the motocross track in NC where they lived. His dad thought that track was for more experiences riders. Patrick was a beginner and had only ridden on flat trails in their back yard. So his dad refused to take him.

Knowing that Club MX in Chesterfield “offered on-site training and tracks for all levels, Terry gave in and agreed to take Patrick there to ride a motocross track for the first time.” (Post and Courier)

On December 21, 2014, Patrick and his dad unloaded his bike and headed toward the practice track; an employee pointed them in that direction after Terry explained this was his son’s first time riding on a motocross track. Patrick had on all his safety equipment: helmet, riding gloves, boots, neck brace, and chest protector. He decided to try a jump called the catapult first. Only a beginner, Patrick just rolled slowly over it, instead of launching into the air. An experienced biker made his way to the same catapult jump, not knowing that Patrick was still on the track at the end of the jump.

The motocross “rider soared into the air…and there was nothing – no caution flagger on the track, no clear line of sight for the airborne rider, and no sudden change in physics – that could stop him from landing directly on to Patrick’s back,” according to a lawsuit filed by Patrick’s father in 2016. Patrick died before reaching the hospital.

Terry’s legal fight has uncovered a huge problem: “There are no laws or regulations regarding motocross tracks and facilities in South Carolina.” No regulations means there are no legal requirements for safety standards, how they operate, or how much insurance they must carry.

Other states also lack safety regulations. Only a few states have any laws regulating motocross tracks, according to the American Motorcyclist Association. “AMA-sanctioned race events, however, do have standards. The 2018 AMA Racing Rulebook notes riders are separated based on their experience and flaggers must be on the track to warn riders of conditions should they need to proceed cautiously.” However, this is not the case for recreational use. It is left up to the business owner to make decisions regarding safety. Terry said his son had signed a waiver, but that he, the parent did not sign anything.

Terry explained, the AMA regulations don’t do any good if there is no legislation to enforce them for recreational use.

Terry has contacted several lawmakers trying to get regulations in place for motocross facilities. He’s basically been told that riders participate in this dangerous sport at their own risk. “…there’s a speed limit on the highways that I have to comply with, so why can’t there be something for these places?” Terry has said he will take this fight to the national level if that’s what it takes for change to happen.

Contact the Law Offices of David L. Hood for a Free Wrongful Death Consultation

If someone you care about has died due to someone else’s negligence, please schedule your free consultation by calling the Law Offices of David L. Hood at (843) 491-6025 or filling out our brief online contact form.

We know how difficult it can be to deal with the immediate and long-term effects of a wrongful death. At the Law Offices of David L. Hood, we work hard to make things simple for you. After a free case evaluation, if we believe we can help you and your family, Wrongful Death Attorney David L. Hood, co-counsel, and our team of experts will vigorously pursue your case to get you the best result we can achieve. Let us put our years of experience to work for you!

*Clients are not liable for any expenses, unless there is a recovery in their case; however, if there is a recovery in their case, clients will be liable for expenses. Attorney’s fees are based on a percentage of the recovery, which will be computed before deducting expenses.

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Motor Vehicle Accidents Wrongful Death Attorney

West Columbia Drug Clinic at Fault in Fatal Crash

Columbia Metro Treatment Center in West Columbia, and its chain owner, Colonial Management Group will pay $10.5 million to settle two wrongful death lawsuits after one of its patients, under the influence of drugs, killed an elderly couple and their grandson in a 2015 auto accident.

The order says that this lawsuit settlement almost exhausts the Orlando-based company’s available insurance coverage. Because this was a confidential settlement, the case won’t go to trial, and the public will never hear details of the allegations or the company’s responses.

The driver, 62-year-old Robert Moore Jr. had been a patient of the clinic, receiving treatment for addiction to opiates. According to the lawsuits and the company’s internet site, “Drug addicts go to the Columbia Metro Treatment Center to get regular doses of methadone, which reduces their craving for opioids, including OxyContin.” (The State Newspaper)

The lawsuit alleged that Columbia Metro Treatment Center irresponsibly prescribed Methadone to Moore, who mixed it with other drugs. Moore left the clinic on November 20, 2015 heading west on U.S. 375. He veered into eastbound traffic on U.S. 378, striking two vehicles, and then slammed into an SUV head-on. The SUV burst into flames.

Harry Gunnells, 73, his wife Barbara, and their grandson, Cooper Gunnells, were in the SUV, and were killed in the accident. “Their estates sued the drug-treatment center and its owner.”

Harry and Barbara were killed instantly, but Cooper, “who suffered from spina bifida, was pinned in the wreckage and was “burned by the flames and suffocated by the smoke,” according to one of the lawsuits.”

Moore survived the crash, but died soon thereafter.

A little over five years prior, Moore had become addicted to pain-killing drugs after a back injury. In that five years, the clinic had never tried to detox Mr. Moore, or wean him from the “addictive substances for which he initially sought treatment, the lawsuits alleged.”

A week before the fatal crash, Columbia Metro had drug-tested Moore, who tested positive for methadone, amphetamines, Xanax and OxyContin. Moore was under the influence of methadone, Xanax, and Adderall on the day of the crash, an autopsy showed. Xanax and Methadone have a side effect of sleepiness. Adderall can cause seizures.

These four deaths could have been prevented by Columbia Metro cutting off Moore’s access to Methadone. In the complaint, Cooper’s attorney said, “The fatal injury and conscious pain and suffering … was the direct, proximate, result of Columbia Metro’s negligent, grossly negligent and reckless conduct.”

Contact the Law Offices of David L. Hood for a Free Wrongful Death Consultation

If someone you care about has died due to someone else’s negligence, please schedule your free consultation by calling the Law Offices of David L. Hood at (843) 491-6025 or filling out our brief online contact form.

We know how difficult it can be to deal with the immediate and long-term effects of a wrongful death. At the Law Offices of David L. Hood, we work hard to make things simple for you. After a free case evaluation, if we believe we can help you and your family, Wrongful Death Attorney David L. Hood, co-counsel, and our team of experts will vigorously pursue your case to get you the best result we can achieve. Let us put our years of experience to work for you!

*Clients are not liable for any expenses, unless there is a recovery in their case; however, if there is a recovery in their case, clients will be liable for expenses. Attorney’s fees are based on a percentage of the recovery, which will be computed before deducting expenses.

Other online references used for this article:

South Carolina Lawyers Weekly, https://sclawyersweekly.com/news/2018/12/10/methadone-clinic-settles-fatal-crash-suit-for-10-5m/

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Wrongful Death Attorney

Lawmakers to Form Investigative Panel after Patients Being Transported Drowned in Florence Floodwaters

Horry County Deputies Stephen Flood and Joshua Bishop were fired more than a month after two mental health patients drowned in a County van that was steered into Florence floodwaters. State lawmakers have vowed to launch an investigation on their own as to how this could have happened.

Nicolette Green, 43, and Wendy Newton, 45 were ordered to emergency care by their doctors. “A doctor’s order triggers the state law prescribing who should take patients to mental health facilities. The law allows family members or a private ambulance to do the job, but that rarely happens. Instead, law enforcement officers are usually required to take on the task.” (The Post and Courier).

On September 18, the deputies were transporting Green and Newton to hospitals for treatment in a van designed to transport prisoners (although neither woman had a criminal history). On U.S. Highway 76, near Nichols, SC, they encountered barricades blocking the road, due to flooding caused by recent Tropical Storm Florence. National Guardsmen allowed the van to pass through, “acting on orders to let law enforcement around barriers”, Horry County’s sheriff said.

The van entered the floodwater, which overtook the van. The deputies were able to get out, but could not free the women, who were pleading for help. The van went under, and the women drowned.

“The van was not specially equipped to travel through high water.” Public officials and the community were outraged, wondering why the van was authorized to drive in those conditions, when the public was being warned NOT to get out on the roads because of dire flooding risks. Police were even ticketing motorists who did not heed warning signs.

“A SLED inquiry into whether the deputies committed crimes is still unfolding, SLED spokesman Thom Berry said.”

Contact the Law Offices of David L. Hood for a Free Wrongful Death Consultation

If someone you care about has died due to someone else’s negligence, please schedule your free consultation by calling the Law Offices of David L. Hood at (843) 491-6025 or filling out our brief online contact form.

We know how difficult it can be to deal with the immediate and long-term effects of a wrongful death. At the Law Offices of David L. Hood, we work hard to make things simple for you. After a free case evaluation, if we believe we can help you and your family, Wrongful Death Attorney David L. Hood, co-counsel, and our team of experts will vigorously pursue your case to get you the best result we can achieve. Let us put our years of experience to work for you!

*Clients are not liable for any expenses, unless there is a recovery in their case; however, if there is a recovery in their case, clients will be liable for expenses. Attorney’s fees are based on a percentage of the recovery, which will be computed before deducting expenses.