How Do Wrongful Death Lawsuits Work in West Virginia?
The process for moving ahead with a wrongful death claim in West Virginia is much the same as that in a personal injury claim. The main difference is that the personal representative or family member of the deceased brings the wrongful death claim on the victim’s behalf. These claims allow family members to seek compensation for losses they suffered due to the death of a loved one, while also compensating the estate for medical bills, lost wages and other economic damages.
West Virginia law has specific rules for who can file a wrongful death claim. The personal representative of the estate may bring the case to court, as long as he or she does so within the two-year statute of limitations. Under the West Virginia Code section 55-7-6, the following family members may seek compensation through these means:
- The surviving spouse
- Children, stepchildren and adopted children of the deceased
- Parents and siblings of the deceased
- Family members who were financially dependent on the deceased at the time of death
Available damages in West Virginia wrongful death claims
Damages available for the relatives of the deceased could include economic damages for things like medical bills, funeral and burial expenses, lost wages and benefits, and compensation for lost or damaged property. Certain noneconomic damages, such as compensation for loss of companionship, sorrow and mental anguish, may also be involved. However, West Virginia sets a $500,000 cap on punitive damages.