Fatal Injuries and Accidents
You need a compassionate attorney during this difficult time
Losing a loved one is never easy, especially when the loss is due to another person's negligence. You may spend weeks or months replaying the accident in your mind, wondering if something could have been done. Your family is left to move on without the support and security your relative provided.
Our family at Recht Law understands what you're going through. We know that you may not want to involve an attorney. But the truth is that while no lawsuit can bring your loved one back, working with a wrongful death lawyer can make it easier to move forward. By collecting compensation for lost future wages, funeral expenses and other costs associated with the death, you can make sure that the people left behind are provided for.
Who is eligible to file a wrongful death claim?
Under West Virginia law, three standards must be met in order to file a wrongful death lawsuit:
- The death of a person;
- Caused by the neglect, default or wrongful act of a person, business or government agency;
- That would have given the decedent (the person who died) a claim to file a personal injury suit against the person, business or government for damages if he or she had not died.
Wrongful death claims need to be filed by a personal representative of the decedent's estate, not by relatives. However, damages awarded in the case will go to the decedent's surviving spouse or children. Siblings, parents and other relatives can also be entitled to damages if they were financially dependent on the person who died.
Under West Virginia law, the personal representative generally has two years from the date of death to file the claim, although there are some exceptions. That's why it's so important to contact us promptly to ensure that all deadlines are met and your case can proceed without issue.
Ohio and Pennsylvania have similar laws governing wrongful death suits. In all three states, the personal representative of the estate is the person who must actually file the claim. However, Pennsylvania only gives the personal representative six months from the date of death to take legal action. Ohio uses a two-year time window, just as West Virginia does.
What types of damages can be awarded in a wrongful death case?
Damages awarded in a wrongful death claim may go to the estate of the deceased person or directly to family members, depending on the circumstances. Family members may be able to sue for sorrow, mental anguish, and loss of society, companionship and comfort, as these are losses that they have suffered directly due to the death. In addition, the estate of the deceased person can be compensated for medical bills related to the illness or injury that ultimately caused the death as well as funeral expenses, lost future wages and compensation for lost property.
In some cases, a court will find that the conduct that led to the death was especially reckless, egregious or intentional. In those cases, the court may award punitive damages - an often substantial sum of money intended to punish the responsible party and deter similar conduct in the future.
If you've suffered a loss due to the negligence or intentional acts of another person, we would be honored to represent you. Contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation. Call 1-800-487-8546.