If your family has suffered from the unexpected passing of a loved one, you may have the grounds to file a wrongful death claim. At DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC, our Parkersburg wrongful death lawyers have extensive experience representing families whose loved ones died as a result of another party’s or entity’s negligence.
Wrongful death can occur in a number of ways. Automobile accidents, unintentional poisonings, dangerous products, animal attacks, and instances of medical malpractice are common causes. No matter how your loved one passed, if negligence was a factor it’s important to take legal action. Doing so will not only protect your family’s future, but it could prevent future loss of life once the negligent party is held accountable.
The claims process is often complicated, as wrongful death is one of the more complex areas of personal injury law. That’s part of why it’s so important to work with an experienced legal team. The claim your family files will be examined in relation to West Virginia’s wrongful death laws.
Defining Wrongful Death in West Virginia
A wrongful death claim is a civil lawsuit in which the deceased person’s estate has the right to bring the claim to court on their behalf to seek similar damages to the ones the deceased would have been able to pursue had they lived. Family members can also receive compensation for certain losses.
In West Virginia, only the executor or administrator of an estate can file a claim. This person, if not named by a will, is typically chosen by the court. When filing, the estate needs to prove the death of the individual was caused by a wrongful act. If they had lived, they would have been entitled to sue for damages.
Wrongful Death and Compensation Eligibility
According to West Virginia Code §55-7-6, the representative of an estate can seek compensation for the following:
- Funeral expenses
- Sorrow and mental anguish
- Loss of income
- Loss of services, protection, or care
- Medical bills
There are two factors that impact recovery for injury damages in a wrongful death case: the modified comparative fault standard and the cap on noneconomic damages. Your lawyer will know how these rules apply to your case and how they could affect its outcome.
In West Virginia, the comparative fault rule can reduce compensation by the percentage of the deceased’s own negligence in their death. If, for example, a patient ignored pre-operative rules given to them by their doctor and died during surgery as a result of complications from a surgical error and their own negligence, the court may determine they played a small role in their own death. If the claim is worth $200,000, but the decedent was at fault for 20% of their death, total compensation could only amount to $160,000.
In regard to the caps on noneconomic damages, estates can only recover up to $500,000 for an incident.
The Importance of Working with an Attorney
As mentioned, the wrongful death litigation process is complex. Working with an attorney is often crucial to increase the odds of a successful claim, but that’s not where the benefits stop.
Handling the death of a loved one can be entirely consuming. The last thing you need is to battle with insurance companies, worry about extensive paperwork, or think about deadlines. Your lawyer is expertly trained to handle all the details of your claim so you can focus on healing.
In addition to giving your family the space to grieve, a lawyer has a comprehensive understanding of the laws that apply to your claim. Legal terminology can be confusing, but your attorney will ensure you understand every step of the process. They’ll be able to answer your legal questions and save you time in the long run.
Obtaining full and fair compensation for wrongful death isn’t always easy. Your attorney will take every loss into consideration, even the ones you may not be considering. You’ll be able to afford your loved one’s end of life expenses and move forward into the future financially sound.
Secure Your Future Today
While no amount of financial payment can compensate for the loss of your loved one, ensuring your family is financially secure and holding the negligent party accountable can provide a sense of closure and justice.
Wrongful death claims are complicated. You’ll need support from a Parkersburg wrongful death lawyer to ensure your claim is successful. We’re proud to represent the residents of Parkersburg and we recognize how sensitive of a time it is when you’re filing a claim for the wrongful loss of a loved one. We’ll handle the difficult conversations and paperwork for you while keeping you in the loop, so you can focus on healing and spending time with family.
If you have questions about a possible wrongful death claim or are prepared to file, contact our office today. We’ll set you up with a free consultation so we can review your case and determine how to proceed.