A wrongful death lawsuit against a workplace, business, or individual is filed when an untimely death is caused by a devastating, catastrophic event like civil or criminal negligence, accident, product failure, or medical malpractice.
How long do I have to file a wrongful death claim?
A West Virginia wrongful death claim may be filed up to two years after the untimely death.
Two years may seem a long time, but delays in representation allow for the destruction of vital evidence which will affect your claim.
It is important to retain an experienced lawyer as soon as possible. A wrongful death has tragic economic and psychological implications for family members, children, and dependant parents. Loving family, friends, and support groups may help you deal with the emotional pain of your loss.
You will also need a lawyer experienced in handling wrongful death claims to aid your family in moving forward from your tragic loss through monetary recovery for the damages your family has suffered.
Who may file a wrongful death claim?
A wrongful death claim may be filed by the deceased’s estate, parents, surviving spouse, and adult and minor children of the deceased parent.
What damages are recoverable in a wrongful death claim?
Some of the damages recoverable in a wrongful death claim are: medical and funeral expenses, lost future earnings, and loss of relationship (also called consortium).
What types of insurance may be available for compensating a wrongful death claim?
Insurance benefits may include motor vehicle insurance of the at-fault party, business insurance, uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance of the deceased, umbrella policies, funeral benefits, survivor benefits, personal insurance coverage, and personal and business assets of the at-fault party.
What are some factors which may affect the value of a wrongful death claim?
•· The facts of the accident which caused the death: whether the cause of the accident was egregious or simply a “mistake” will affect the claim’s value.
•· The claim may be worth more if the cause of death is uncontested.
•· The amount of pain, fear, and suffering preceding the death may factor into a wrongful death claim’s value.
•· The number of potential beneficiaries and the age of the deceased: the value of a claim for a decedent who was married with dependent children will be higher than for an older, single person.
•· The identity of the party who caused the death: a grandmother who “made a mistake” will be viewed more sympathetically than a multi-million dollar corporation.
•· Insurance coverage: if the party who caused the accident is uninsured or underinsured, damages may not be recoverable unless that party has substantial personal assets.
•· The personal character and reputation of the deceased will affect how the wrongful death claim is viewed.
•· The experience and reputation of your lawyer: The insurance companies will be doing everything within their legal power to minimize your claim and avoid paying full compensation.
The insurance company will hire or use company lawyers to aggressively fight your claim. These types of claims are complicated and can be lost on technical or procedural violations.
It is essential for you to hire an attorney who has a reputation of experience and success in handling wrongful death claims.
About Jeff Robinette
Jeff Robinette is an award-winning West Virginia Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Attorney with over 30 years of experience handling catastrophic injury cases. Mr. Robinette started his career working for insurance companies, and he now uses that experience to exclusively represent the injured and their families.
Morgantown, WV is the home base for the Robinette Legal Group, PLLC, but Mr. Robinette and his skilled team represent clients all over West Virginia.
Mr. Robinette is the author of three authoritative books to help the injured understand their rights and the personal injury claims process — Collision Care: A Guide for West Virginia Car Accidents; Righting the Wrong: A Guide for West Virginia Personal Injury Cases (including workplace injuries), and Beside Still Waters: A Guide for West Virginia Wrongful Death Claims.