Coping with the untimely death of a family member is especially difficult when it occurred as a result of someone else’s negligence or recklessness. In West Virginia, those who go are going through this experience may file a wrongful death claim.
Below are important information about such claims, how you can get paid for damages, and where to find reliable wrongful death attorneys to assist your case. This post aims to help the aggrieved party seek justice for the loss and suffering they experienced because of another’s wrongdoing.
Filing for Wrongful Death
The following are some examples of circumstances which warrant an accidental death claim:
- trucking and automobile accidents
- pedestrian accidents
- bicycle or motorcycle collisions
- medical malpractice
- personal injuries that prove fatal
- accidents occurring in construction sites
What differentiates lawyers handling such cases from personal injury lawyers is the element of fatality in the case.
A claim for wrongful death is filed in civil court and the rules followed are similar to a personal injury lawsuit. The main difference lies in who can file the petition: in personal injury cases, the victim sues the perpetrator and begins the claim process, while in a wrongful death case, only a personal representative or loved-one from the decedent’s estate may file on behalf of the deceased. The purpose of each claim is to demand compensation for suffering and losses in the form of monetary compensation.
The fatal accident claim should be duly submitted to court within the two year period after death. Late claims may be dismissed without the chance of a hearing being scheduled. In instances when the time the suffering was experienced may have started before the official time of death, certain exceptions may apply. It would be best to consult with a West Virginia wrongful death lawyer for more information on who can get exempted from this rule or how you may file if you missed the statute of limitations.
Determination of Fault
When aggrieved parties pursue damages, the jury evaluates the amount based on the comparative fault rule, where the victim and the accused are assigned a percentage representing their ‘fault’ in the untimely demise, and an amount equal to the estimated damages caused. Fair compensation can only be expected from hearings where the person who died has comparative negligence of less than 50 percent.
Awarding of Damages
Moreover, even if the circumstances surrounding the victim’s death can be tried in criminal court, a wrongful death attorney working with the surviving representative may still bring the case to a civil court judge. Under the state law, when the claim is approved, payment for damages is distributed to the surviving spouse, biological, adopted, or stepchildren, siblings, parents, and other legal dependents.
The specific type of compensation awarded to the family will be commensurate to the loss they suffered. Among the damages usually paid by the party at fault are the following:
- emotional turmoil (feelings of sorrow, anguish, solace loss of a friend or guardian)
- medical expenses resulting from serious injury, such as but not limited to spinal and brain injuries which resulted in the death of your loved one
- expenses for funerals and burials
- lost income or wages
- property damages
- economic damages based on estimated potential earnings had the person lived
If you meet the qualifications for filing an accidental death claim, you can contact a wrongful death attorney from Ghaphery Law Offices, PLLC. Our experienced attorneys will provide sound legal advice regarding fault determination and estimation of compensation for the pain you and your relatives have been through.
Our law firm is committed to protecting your family member’s rights and fighting for the compensation that you deserve. Call us today to schedule your consultation.