Spearfish Wrongful Death Attorneys
Serving Families Across the Black Hills Area
At Whiting Hagg & Dorsey, LLP, we know that there is nothing harder than losing a loved one. When their death could have been prevented, it can be even more difficult to move forward with your life. By filing a wrongful death claim against the responsible person or party, you can not only recover monetary compensation for unexpected financial challenges and non-economic losses, but you can also secure the justice you need to heal.
Leveraging more than 150 years of combined experience, our firm represents clients in Spearfish, Rapid City, and throughout the Black Hills area. We have recovered millions of dollars on behalf of individuals and families who have suffered unimaginable losses as a result of someone else’s negligent or wrongful conduct. Our team is here to help you understand your legal options and protect your rights as you navigate the civil litigation process and seek the fair recovery you are owed.
Continue reading to learn more about filing a wrongful death lawsuit in South Dakota, or contact our Spearfish wrongful death attorneys at (605) 519-6136 for a free, confidential consultation.
South Dakota’s Definition of “Wrongful Death”
Under South Dakota Codified Laws section 21-5, a wrongful death occurs when neglect or a wrongful action causes a person, including an unborn child, to lose their life. The negligent party could be another person or an entity, such as a business, manufacturer, or government agency.
Wrongful death claims typically arise from the following types of wrongdoing:
- Intentional acts
- Medical malpractice
One of the simplest ways to determine if a death is considered “wrongful” in the eyes of the law is to determine whether the deceased, also known as the “decedent,” would have had legal grounds to pursue a personal injury lawsuit if they had lived. If they would have been able to file such lawsuit, their death will likely be considered “wrongful.”
Examples of Wrongful Death Cases
Any time a person dies as a result of another person or party’s negligence, wrongful conduct, or intentional acts, eligible surviving individuals may file a wrongful death claim or lawsuit.
Wrongful death cases often involve:
- Car accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Truck accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Dog bites and animal attacks
- Serious slip and falls or unsafe property conditions/premises
- Workplace and construction site accidents
- Defective products
- Medical malpractice
- Nursing home abuse and neglect
If your loved one passed away, and you believe someone else was at fault, we encourage you to reach out to our Spearfish wrongful death attorneys for a free consultation. We can help you determine if you have grounds for a lawsuit and, if so, are prepared to aggressively advocate for you and the justice your family deserves.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in South Dakota?
Only certain people are permitted to pursue a wrongful death action under South Dakota law.
These individuals, in order, include:
- The decedent’s surviving spouse and/or children
- The decedent’s surviving parent(s) or guardian(s)
- The decedent’s surviving next of kin
The first priority is granted to the decedent’s surviving spouse and/or children, who may file jointly or separately. If there is no surviving spouse and no surviving children, the decedent’s parents and/or legal guardians are next in line, followed by any next of kin, if none of the preceding parties are available.
What Damages Are Available in Wrongful Death Cases?
When someone dies unexpectedly, their surviving family members may experience a range of economic and non-economic losses. Collectively, these losses are referred to as “damages.” The purpose of filing a wrongful death claim or lawsuit is to recover monetary compensation for economic and non-economic damages arising from the decedent’s death and suffered by the estate and/or eligible plaintiffs.
Eligible surviving family members can seek the following types of damages in wrongful death cases:
- Medical expenses related to treating the decedent’s final injury or illness
- Funeral/burial expenses
- Lost earnings and employment benefits provided by the decedent
- The reasonable value of household/childcare services the decedent would likely have provided
- Grief and anguish experienced by the surviving individual
- Loss of companionship, care, comfort, guidance, and support provided by the decedent
South Dakota currently caps on wrongful death damages at $1,000,000 for both economic or non-economic damages. At Whiting Hagg & Dorsey, LLP, we advocate for the maximum amount our clients are owed and, when possible, even seek punitive damage awards. Also known as “exemplary damages,” punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant for willful, wanton, or intentional infliction of injury, such as cases involving driving while intoxicated or criminal conduct like assault or homicide.
Why Hire a Wrongful Death Attorney?
While you are not required by law to work with an attorney, there are many reasons to consider doing so. Many studies have found that people who work with wrongful death attorneys recover better settlements than those who try to resolve these claims on their own. Even more importantly, we believe that you should spend this time focused on your family and on healing—not on fighting with the insurance company or liable party for justice. Instead, our attorneys can handle every legal detail of your case.
When you work with Whiting Hagg & Dorsey, LLP, you receive direct, one-on-one attention from your attorney from start to finish. This allows us to better provide our clients with the level of compassionate, personalized representation they deserve. You can rely on our team to be there for you when you need us most, providing answers to your questions and responding promptly to your calls. We make it our mission to be as accessible as possible to our clients and are prepared to aggressively litigate your case in our efforts to secure the maximum compensation you are owed.
Let our team fight for you and your family. Call (605) 519-6136 or contact us online to schedule a complimentary consultation with our Spearfish wrongful death lawyers today.
Each Case Is Handled With Individual Concern & Care
Cases Handled at State, National & International Levels
Over 150 Years of Combined Experience