While it’s never easy to lose a loved one, it can be especially traumatic when the death occurs suddenly and unexpectedly in Martinsburg, Charles Town, or Berkeley Springs WV due to the negligence of someone else. It is an incredibly stressful time when you need to deal with issues such as the loss of your family member’s income and the bills he or she left behind at a time when you’re already deeply grieving. West Virginia law allows two years from the date of death to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible party.
The Riddell Law Group understands that money can’t return your loved one to you and can never make up for the loss you now face. However, it can, sometimes, help to fill the financial hole caused by the loss of a cherished family member. We are here to help you at this difficult and tragic time by obtaining financial compensation on your behalf to help you move forward in life as best you can.
What Constitutes Wrongful Death in West Virginia?
Under state law, a person filing a wrongful death claim bears the responsibility of proving that the actions of the other party caused the death. This can occur via negligence, an accident, or deliberate assault. Here are some common situations that a court may see as wrongful death:
- Lack of supervision when the victim had expectation of it
- Medical or surgical error
- Death due to a physical fight
- Death after years of exposure to hazardous chemicals on the job
- Motor vehicle accident that is the fault of the other party
This is not an all-inclusive list. You could still be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit if your loved one died in a different manner. An attorney from our Martinsburg, WV law office would be the best person to advise you on this matter.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit?
West Virginia law allows only the personal representative of the deceased’s estate to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Courts appoint this person during the probate process and list his or her name on the estate plan. Although the personal representative is usually a close relative, it can be whoever the family chooses. A judge will make the appointment if the surviving family does not. Once appointed, the personal representative lists every person with a legitimate interest in a wrongful death case. He or she typically handles contact with our Martinsburg, WV law firm as well.
Proving Negligence in Your Wrongful Death Lawsuit
The first responsibility of your attorney is to gather proof and documentation that the party you intend to sue for the death of your family member had the legal obligation to provide him or her with care. This could be another motorist who witnessed an accident, a doctor, or anyone else who had a legal duty of care towards your loved one. Since you bear the burden of proof, your attorney will spend significant time and resources researching how the death occurred and present evidence that collaborates your version of the tragedy.
Potential Damages Available with a Wrongful Death Case
You could possibly receive economic damages, non-economic damages, or both with a successful wrongful death lawsuit. Economic losses cover actual costs such as income loss and medical costs of the family member who passed away. Non-economic damages are those that don’t come with a specific price tag such as the following:
- Loss of companionship and affection
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Emotional issues such as depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder
- Compensation to cover your loved one’s contribution to the household such as home repairs or childcare
The insurance adjuster or jury will consider several factors when awarding or denying non-economic damages. The age and general health of your loved one are big determining factors. That is because someone who dies at 25 would have had many more years of earning capacity than someone who dies at 60.
Contact Us Today For Your Free Consultation
We’re ready to aggressively pursue maximum compensation for you and your remaining family no matter what the circumstances. Please contact the Martinsburg, WV office of The Riddell Law Group today to request a free initial evaluation of your case.