WV Wrongful Death Lawyer Answers Top FAQs About Wrongful Death Claims
As a West Virginia wrongful death attorney, we are asked questions about wrongful death actions all the time. Here we answer some of these frequently asked questions about accident fatality and death claims and why you should hire an attorney to help you. There is nothing quite like the grief that accompanies losing a loved one. This is especially true if you have unexpectedly and suddenly lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligent, reckless, or otherwise wrongful conduct.
What is a wrongful death claim?
A wrongful death claim arises in West Virginia following the death of an individual (legally called the “decedent”) as a result of another’s negligence or misconduct (examples include car wrecks, medical malpractice, or criminal actions). The West Virginia Code provision governing wrongful death actions can be found at W. Va. Code §55-7-5.
Who can bring a wrongful death action?
The personal representative of the Estate of the deceased individual may bring a wrongful death action. This may be the Executor of the Estate, if the individual had a Will prior to passing, or may be the Administrator of the Estate, if the individual passed away without a Will. See W. Va. Code §55-7-6(a).
Who are beneficiaries?
Beneficiaries to a wrongful death settlement or jury verdict include the following individuals:
- Surviving spouse;
- Children (including adopted children and stepchildren);
- Anyone who was financially dependent on the deceased individual at the time of his or her death; and
- Anyone else who would otherwise share in the equitable division.
The Court or a jury will determine the distribution of the settlement or jury verdict between these individuals. The estate and named beneficiaries can also reach an agreement regarding the distribution following a settlement, which the Court will be asked to approve.
If you have been named as a beneficiary in a wrongful death suit, contact our attorneys at Adams Legal Group to assess your rights and eligibility.
See W. Va. Code §55-7-6(b).
What does a wrongful death recovery include?
Financial recovery in wrongful death cases vary on a case-by-case basis. However, damages (i.e., monetary compensation) may be awarded in the form of the following:
- Sorrow, mental anguish, and solace, including society, companionship, comfort, guidance, kindly offices and advice of the decedent;
- Compensation for reasonably expected loss of income, services, protection, care, and assistance provided by the decedent;
- Expenses for the care, treatment, and hospitalization of the decedent as a result of the injury resulting in death; and
- Reasonable funeral expenses.
Punitive damages, monetary compensation designed to punish the responsible party for their wrongful conduct, may also be awarded. Punitive damages are awarded in certain instances where the party’s conduct is particularly egregious.
See W. Va. Code §55-7-6(c)(1).
How long do I have to file a wrongful death lawsuit?
The personal representative of the Estate has two (2) years from the date of death to initiate a wrongful death action in West Virginia. If a suit is not brought within that time frame, any claims related to the death of the individual cannot be brought in the future. W. Va. Code §55-7-6(d).
Why should I hire an attorney?
Competent wrongful death attorneys know the ins and outs of asserting claims related to wrongful death actions. They can help you to assess your options and to assert your rights as the personal representative of the Estate (or as a beneficiary to the Estate) and navigate the legal process of obtaining compensation for the loss of your loved one.
The experienced West Virginia wrongful death attorneys at Adams Legal Group are here to help you following the loss of your loved one. We are happy to offer free initial consultations and no-fee-up-front representation. Please contact our office at (304) 381-2166 to discuss your case.