The unexpected death of a loved one would be the most painful experience imaginable, especially if it occurred due to the negligence or recklessness of another person. While nothing can truly bring them back or even make up for their presence, filing a wrongful death lawsuit in West Virginia can help you seek damages for your loss.
Understanding wrongful death in West Virginia
According to West Virginia Statute 55-17C-01, wrongful death is defined as the death of a person caused by “the wrongful act or neglect of another.” A wrongful act could be anything from a car accident caused by a drunk driver to medical malpractice.
People that can bring a wrongful death claim
In West Virginia, the personal representative of the deceased’s estate is the only one who can bring a wrongful death claim. This could be the spouse, child, or parent of the dead and their executor. However, if there is no surviving spouse, child, parent, or executor, then any other person who would be entitled to inherit from the deceased under state law can bring a claim.
The process of filing a wrongful death claim
The first step in filing a wrongful death claim is to file a complaint with the court. The complaint must include certain information, such as the date and cause of death, and it must be served on the defendant. The defendant will have an opportunity to respond within 20 days.
The discovery process will then begin. This is where each party gathers evidence to support their case. It involves taking depositions, requesting documents, and conducting interviews.
The case can go to trial, or the parties can settle out of court. If the case goes to trial, a jury will hear evidence from both sides and decide whether or not the defendant is liable for the death of the deceased. If a settlement is reached, the parties will agree on an amount of compensation to be paid to the plaintiff.
If successful in your claim, you can recover damages that will cover funeral and burial expenses, loss of support and financial contributions, loss of companionship and long, and mental anguish and emotional distress. However, remember that you only have two years to bring this claim unless special circumstances cause a delay.