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Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death in West Virginia?

A wrongful death lawsuit is when someone seeks damages for the death of a family member that was caused by the negligence or fault of another. These claims are similar to personal injury claims, but because they cannot be brought forward by the now-deceased victim, they must follow slightly different rules with a few key differences. These suits are civil lawsuits, and may still be filed even if the death was caused by criminal actions and is subject to a criminal case.

However, only certain individuals are eligible to bring them forward, and they may only bring them for specific reasons, which we’ll detail in this blog.

Who Is Eligible to File?

According to West Virginia law, a very small group of people can actually bring a wrongful death claim to a court, but a much broader number of surviving family members can receive a share of any awarded damages. In order to file, you must be considered to be a “representative of the estate.” This most often means the spouse and children, however it could also include parents, siblings or stepchildren.

Family members who are eligible to receive compensation include:

  • A surviving spouse
  • Children, including stepchildren and adopted children
  • Parents
  • Siblings
  • Any family members of the deceased who were financially-dependent on them at the time of death

The time to file a wrongful death lawsuit is not unlimited after the tragedy occurs. West Virginia has a two-year statute of limitations on wrongful death suits, which means that the court can dismiss your case without even hearing it beyond that two-year time limit. The date typically begins on the date of the death, but there are some exceptions, which an attorney may be able to assist you with.

What Damages Can the Estate Pursue?

A wrongful death suit can potentially secure financial compensation for a number of issues that arise after a death. The most obvious damages are sorrow and mental anguish, which often includes loss of companionship, comfort, guidance kindly offices, advice, and even society. There are many other damages that can also be pursued depending on the nature of the death, including medical bills, treatments, funeral and burial expenses, lost wages and benefits, and lost or damaged property.

If you or a loved one has suffered the effects of a wrongful death, a West Virginia personal injury attorney may be able to assist you with presenting your case before the court. At Berthold Law Firm, PLLC, we have more than 40 years of combined experience in the field of personal injury law, and we are not afraid to take your case to a full trial to get you the compensation you need. With several multi-million dollar verdicts to our name, we hold a record of proven success and dedication to your needs after you have suffered a tragic loss.

To find out how Berthold Law Firm, PLLC can help you, schedule a free consultation today by calling 304.605.2040.