Our West Virginia Wrongful Death Attorneys understand that no amount of money can compensate for the loss of our loved ones.
However, we understand that the sudden loss of a breadwinner can make your grief even more difficult to bear. The last thing you need in these trying times is to worry about finances and how to provide for your surviving family members.
To see if you may be entitled to compensation for the untimely death of a loved one, you should consult with a specialist West Virginia wrongful death attorney.
How a Wrongful Death Lawyer Can Help
Accidental death lawyers can help you prepare and file a wrongful death claim, get compensation from the responsible parties, and maximize your financial award. A wrongful death claim cannot bring your loved one back. However, it can secure your and your family’s financial future.
Robinette Legal Group, PLLC, is a group of dedicated West Virginia wrongful death lawyers headed by Jeff Robinette.
Mr. Robinette is a National Board Certified Trial Attorney with 25+ years of experience representing surviving family members and helping them get compensation for the loss of their loved ones.
Our practice is based in Morgantown, WV, but we serve clients statewide. We treat our clients with compassion while aggressively defending their claims.
What Our West Virginia Wrongful Death Attorneys Can Do for You
At Robinette Legal Group, PLLC, we handle all types of wrongful death claims, including fatalities caused by:
- Coal mining
- Oil and gas rigs
- Truck accidents
- Toxic exposure
- Product failure and defects
- Pipeline explosions
- Medical malpractice
- Motor vehicle collisions
- Logging and timbering
- Construction accidents
Fatal Work Accident Statistics for the US and West Virginia in 2020
Resources for Infographic:
https://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/cfoi/state-rates.htm Fatal Work Accidents in WV
West Virginia 2020 Fatality rates by industry: https://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/cfoi/staterate2020.htm
OSHA List of West Virginia fatalities: https://www.osha.gov/fatalities
West Virginia Wrongful Death FAQs
Our clients come to us in the aftermath of deeply traumatic events in their lives. They are sad, angry, overwhelmed, heartbroken – and they have more questions than they can answer.
Below you can find some of the most common questions we get in our practice. This is a good place to start your research.
However, be sure to follow that up with a consultation with a qualified attorney. Wrongful death law is a complex area of practice that can be extremely challenging – if not downright impossible – to navigate as a non-specialist. A single mistake, oversight, or missed deadline could cause you to lose your compensation.
What Qualifies as Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death is a fatality caused by the negligence or misconduct of another person or a legal entity such as a business or corporation. While these types of accidents often give rise to criminal prosecution, a wrongful death suit is a civil action. As such, it is distinct from and independent of any related criminal charges.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit in West Virginia?
Some states allow an immediate relative such as a child, parent, or a surviving spouse to file a wrongful death suit.
In West Virginia, however, the only party who has the standing to file a wrongful death claim is the personal representative of the deceased. In most cases, this will be the person appointed as the executor of their estate.
If the decedent’s will does not specify an executor, someone – usually, the surviving spouse – would have to apply to be appointed as the estate’s administrator.
Who Is Entitled to Wrongful Death Benefits in West Virginia?
A sudden and untimely death can wreak havoc on the lives of many people – both financially and emotionally. Because of this, West Virginia law extends the right to compensation in a wrongful death suit to several parties, including the deceased’s:
- Surviving spouse
- Adult and minor children, including stepchildren and adopted children
- Immediate family, including parents and siblings
A familial relationship is not always required: anyone financially dependent on the deceased at their death will also be entitled to compensation.
It is important to note that who can or cannot recover on a wrongful death claim is entirely separate from the terms of the deceased’s will – if any.
What Damages Are Recoverable in a Wrongful Death Suit?
If your claim is successful, the court may compensate you for:
- Pain, Grief, and Suffering: Family members may be eligible for compensation for the pain, grief, and suffering they have experienced resulting from the loss of their loved one.
- Funeral Expenses: Burial expenses can easily cost thousands of dollars, putting even more pressure on families that may already be struggling financially.
- Medical Bills and Expenses: Contrary to popular belief, wrongful death need not be instantaneous. It is often preceded by prolonged hospital stays, expensive treatment, and hefty medical bills.
- Lost Earnings: For many of our clients, the death of a loved one also means the loss of the household breadwinner. You are entitled to compensation for the future earnings the deceased would have made. As these calculations can be incredibly complicated, our practice works with an expert economist to estimate your present and future losses with a high degree of accuracy.
- Punitive Damages: In certain wrongful death cases that involve flagrant recklessness or safety violations, the court may also award punitive damages. This punishes the party at fault and prevents such incidents from occurring in the future.
How Much Is a Typical Wrongful Death Settlement?
The value of wrongful death suits varies widely, depending on multiple factors such as:
- Whether the accident was egregious or a mere mistake
- Whether the cause of death is contested
- The amount of fear, pain, and suffering preceding the moment of death
- The age of the deceased
- The number of the potential beneficiaries
- Who caused the death
- Whether the at-fault party was insured
- The personal reputation and character of the deceased
What Is the West Virginia Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations?
They say time heals all things, but the pain of losing a loved one can last forever. Unfortunately, you do not have forever to file a wrongful death claim. You must file the suit within the timeframe set out in the West Virginia Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations. Otherwise, you risk receiving no compensation.
Generally, you have two years from the date of the death to file the claim. That may seem like a fairly long time, but it is not in your best interest to wait until the last minute. The longer the delay, the likelier it is that vital evidence may disappear or be destroyed. That may affect the outcome of your claim even if you file on time.
What Types of Insurance Are Available for Wrongful Death Claim Compensations?
In other words, who pays? Insurance benefits that you may be able to claim in a wrongful death claim include:
- Survivor benefits
- Funeral benefits
- Umbrella policies
- Business insurance
- Personal insurance coverage
- Motor vehicle insurance of the party at fault
- Personal and business assets of the party at fault
- Underinsured or uninsured motorist insurance of the deceased
Your attorney can tell you which types of insurance apply in your case and how to claim them.
Do You Need a Wrongful Death Lawyer?
Yes. Wrongful death law in West Virginia is complicated, and there are many exceptions to the rules that only a specialist will know. Self-representation is not a good idea, as it severely lowers your chances of a successful claim and getting high compensation.
Emotions tend to run high in cases like these. It will be hard, if not altogether impossible, for you and your family to keep a cool head and stay neutral, which is essential for navigating the West Virginia legal system.
An attorney will lay out all your options and can advise which one would be best for you. Also, a West Virginia wrongful death lawyer will know all the tactics used by insurance companies and at-fault parties to minimize compensation awards.
West Virginia Wrongful Death Statistics
There is no way to know exactly how much your compensation will be in advance – there are too many variables to consider, and most settlements are private.
However, statistical data by legal research company Westlaw shows that out of a total of 1,074 verdicts, only 111 were in favor of the defendant. That means wrongful death plaintiffs win around 90% of West Virginia jury trials – a very high success rate compared with most other U.S. jurisdictions.
What about the value of the compensation? The value of most of the 963 successful claims is $100,000 or less. 83% were under $100,000, with most being in the $20,000 to $50,000 range. 57 awards exceeded $1 million, and 15 cases – just 1% of the total – were valued at over $5 million.
These figures are not surprising, as most wrongful death cases involve motor vehicle accidents, where the damages are usually lower than in other personal injury cases. Keep in mind that the numbers are somewhat skewed, as we do not have access to the private settlement statistics.
Why Choose Jeff Robinette To Represent Your Family’s Wrongful Death Case?
In a wrongful death case, you do not want just any attorney by your side. You should have an expert wrongful death lawyer who knows the ins and outs of this particular legal field. At Robinette Legal Group, PLLC, we have nearly three decades of experience in successfully fighting wrongful death suits.
Our staff also understands that, in addition to solid legal expertise, wrongful death plaintiffs need empathy, care, respect, and appreciation of their uniquely difficult position. We promise to treat you and your family with compassion as we relentlessly pursue the parties at fault.
We always aim to recover the maximum compensation possible, helping you build a new life for yourself and your family. The best way to honor the ones we have lost is to look after the living.
Get Your Free Case Evaluation Now With A Proven, Compassionate West Virginia Wrongful Death Attorney
You should consult with a West Virginia wrongful death attorney as soon as possible to explore your options.
At Robinette Legal Group, LLC, we can assist you with compassion and understanding while aggressively pursuing your case before the court.
We will not stop until we have done everything in our power to make sure that those responsible for your loved one’s death face the consequences.
Call 304-594-1800 today for a free and compassionate consultation.