What is Negligent Homicide?



The death of a loved one is always hard. For family members and friends, the grief they experience is devastating. It is particularly difficult when it happens in an untimely manner and due to the negligent actions of others involved. As a result, negligent homicide ends with serious criminal charges. It can also leave those at fault open to civil liability.


As experienced Aiken personal injury attorneys, we represent grieving family members in these types of cases, providing the caring, compassionate support and trusted legal guidance you need. While no amount of money can bring back your loved one or ease your suffering, making sure those responsible are held accountable can give you a sense of justice while ensuring you are provided for in a way your loved one would have wanted.

The Difference Between Murder, Homicide, and Manslaughter


Murder, homicide, and manslaughter are all terms people are generally familiar with but unless you are an attorney or, unfortunately, have firsthand experience in dealing with these matters in court, you are likely to not know the difference between them.


Homicide is a broad term that refers to the killing of another person. Under the South Carolina Code Of Laws, the term is divided into two distinct categories:


  • Murder: The law defines murder as the unlawful killing of another person with ‘malice aforethought', either expressed or implied. This means that you planned and intentionally took action with the purpose of causing someone’s death or acted in such a way that a death was likely to occur, such as pointing a loaded gun at someone and pulling the trigger. Even if you did not succeed in actually killing the person, you can be guilty of attempted murder.

  • Manslaughter: The law defines manslaughter as the unlawful killing of another without malice, either expressed or implied. This means that while you may have taken actions that caused someone’s death, such as firing a gun at them, you did not intend or plan for it to happen.

  • Involuntary manslaughter is a subcategory, generally referred to as criminal negligence or negligent homicide.


Examples Of Negligent Homicide

The Palmetto State ranks seventh highest in the country in terms of our homicide rate. The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) estimates that each month, homicide is responsible for the death of roughly thirty residents while more than 1,300 others visit hospital emergency rooms due to attempted homicide-related injuries. Among the most common causes of homicide are arguments and assaults.


Negligent homicide occurs even more regularly, and sadly, is one of the leading causes of death across the country. Often referred to as ‘an accident’, it can involve any type of scenario in which an individual, group, or company acts in a reckless and willful manner, putting others at risk. Examples include:


  • Motor vehicle accidents caused by speeding, running red lights, drunk driving, and other dangerous behaviors;

  • Fatal falls due to failure to follow proper safety precautions;

  • Accidental shootings, in which someone is reckless in their handling of a firearm;

  • Product liability cases, in which manufacturing errors and product defects result in someone’s death.


Not every fatal accident that happens rises to the level of negligent homicide. Generally, you have to show that the at-fault party either acted or failed to act in such a way as to cause someone’s death—there must be a direct link between their actions and the demise of the victim, and they must know of the serious risks their actions posed.

Holding Those at Fault Accountable for Their Actions


Criminal negligence is a serious matter. When it results in the death of another person, the at-fault party risks charges of involuntary manslaughter; otherwise referred to as negligent homicide. The types of charges are heavy fines, mandatory prison sentences of up to five years, and permanent criminal records. It can also result in civil liability.


In cases of negligent homicide, the victim’s spouse, children, parents, and other family members or representatives of their estate have the right to file a wrongful death claim against those at fault. Under Section 15-32-210 of the South Carolina Code, the compensation available in a wrongful death lawsuit includes:


  • Economic damages: This covers tangible costs, such as outstanding medical expenses, funeral costs, lost wages, and future losses in income or benefits your loved one would have otherwise earned. It can also help cover counseling or other expenses you and other family members incur as you struggle to recover from your loved one’s passing.

  • Non-economic damages: This is an amount designed to compensate you and your family for intangible losses due to your loved one’s passing. It includes compensation for your pain, suffering, mental anguish, loss of companionship, loss of consortium, and general loss of enjoyment in life you and loved ones experience in the aftermath.

  • Punitive damages: This is an additional amount you may be entitled to by law; which is designed to both punish the at-fault party and send a message to others, potentially preventing them from engaging in similar reckless and negligent behavior. Punitive damages can total three times the amount of other compensatory damages or $500,000, whichever is greater.


Reach Out to Our Aiken Personal Injury Attorney

A negligent homicide leaves a lasting mark on your family and it is typically something you never get over or forget. No amount of money can ease your suffering during this difficult time or change what happened, but filing a wrongful death lawsuit can provide a sense of justice and help you get some closure while ensuring you are provided for in the years to come.


At The Surasky Law Firm, LLC, you can count on us to provide the caring, compassionate support, and trusted legal guidance you need during this difficult time. We hold those at fault accountable for your loved one’s death. To discuss your options and how we can help, reach out and call or contact our Aiken personal injury attorney online to request a confidential consultation today.



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