Approval of Wrongful Death Settlement Sought in Walter Scott Case
Charlotte, NC Personal Injury Lawyer
After reaching an agreement with the City of North Charleston to settle a wrongful death claim stemming from Walter Scott’s deadly shooting by a North Charleston police officer, the family has formally asked a South Carolina state court to approve the proposed settlement agreement. The wrongful death settlement amounts to $6.5 million, with $3 million going to Scott’s estate and $2.4 million for attorneys’ fees and costs. $17,000 will pay for back child support.
Shooting Garners National Media Attention
The now-infamous video that shows a former South Carolina police officer shooting Scott to death in the back after he started running away from a traffic stop in April garnered national attention and resulted in an immediate murder charge. The video shows that the former officer initially chased Scott, and both individuals wrestled on the ground before Scott got up and resumed running. Moments later, the officer shot Scott in the back. He was indicted and is awaiting trial.
According to the United States Supreme Court, a police officer may not shoot at a fleeing individual unless he or she reasonably believes that the person poses a threat of substantial physical danger to the officer or to others in the community. Officers must take other non-lethal actions during pursuit unless the fleeing individual risks the safety of the community.
Wrongful Death Settlement Approval in South Carolina
Under South Carolina statute, a South Carolina state probate court, circuit court, or federal district court must approve any settlement of a wrongful death suit. When the personal representative of the estate files a petition for approval of a proposed settlement, the petition has to provide:
- The facts surrounding the death of the decedent;
- The relevant facts that establish liability;
- The amount of insurance that is available to compensate for damages;
- The specific terms of the proposed settlement;
- The statutory beneficiaries of the wrongful death suit;
- The decedent’s heirs at law or appropriate devisees of the estate;
- Any existing creditors;
- The amount of the claims;
- The personal representative’s legal counsel, if any; and
- Terms with respect to attorneys’ fees and costs.
If the personal representative is represented by an attorney, that attorney has to certify to the court that the settlement is fair and reasonable and is in the best interests of the statutory beneficiaries and the estate of the decedent. Then the court will schedule a hearing and consider the facts necessary to evaluate the settlement. Once the court approves a settlement agreement, the person or entity paying the settlement proceeds and all those on whose behalf the payment is made are relieved from further liability and have no obligation to ensure the proper distribution of the settlement proceeds among the wrongful death beneficiaries or any others entitled to the proceeds. The distribution must be ensured by the personal representative receiving the funds.
A wrongful death suit is a complicated process – even settlements are fraught with procedural hurdles. The counsel of an experienced wrongful death attorney is crucial at every step from the outset. The attorneys at Bice Law, LLC can help you recover compensation on behalf of a deceased loved one. Do not hesitate to contact us today for a free initial consultation.
Contact the Personal Injury Law Firm of Bice Law:
The personal injury firm of Bice Law will examine your case to determine the type and amount of damages that your injury warrants, including payments for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and any permanent disability. We’ll determine whether an out-of-court settlement or trial is the best strategy to obtain maximum benefits for you or your family. If you have suffered injury or harm because of someone else’s actions, take the first step to protect your legal rights – contact the personal injury firm of Bice Law serving both North and South Carolina. You only have a limited time after your injury to file a claim, so act quickly. Call 877-BICE-877 today or submit an online request to get a free consultation with a personal injury attorney. We serve families across both North Carolina and South Carolina.