When a loved one dies because of the inattention or negligence of another, the survivors may have a legitimate wrongful death claim.

West Virginia law generally allows surviving family members to file a wrongful death suit up to two years after the fatal injury, though some special circumstances may curtail that time frame to a year or less. A wrongful death claim may be successful if the evidence shows that the defendant likely caused the death and that it could have been avoided.

There are rules that specify who has the ability to claim compensation for wrongful death in West Virginia:

  • The action can only be brought to court by the personal representative of the deceased (often a spouse or adult child).
  • If damages are awarded, the court determines what percentage each family member may receive. The family members that may receive damages include:
    • Surviving spouse
    • Children, including stepchildren and adopted children
    • Siblings
    • Parents
    • Any people who were financially dependent on the deceased
  • If there are no related survivors, then the damages will be distributed in accordance to the deceased’s will.

A wrongful death claim involves much more than simply ensuring the right people seek compensation. It actually begins by proving one or more parties performed a wrongful act that resulted in the loss of your loved one. Then you must document the monetary and other costs sustained by the deceased prior to death. This complex process requires an experienced wrongful death attorney with the compassion needed to guide your entire family through an emotionally charged legal process.