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Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in West Virginia?

On Behalf of | Dec 20, 2023 | Wrongful Death |

Someone’s unexpected death can be very difficult for their family to handle. Obviously, the emotional shock and grief that follows someone’s death can prove devastating. People may take years to recover from the overwhelming experience of losing a parent, child or spouse.

There are also practical and economic struggles associated with someone’s premature death. Families often lose out on the earning potential and benefits provided by the deceased. There are also the services they provide for their family, ranging from child care to lawn maintenance, to consider.

After a fatal car crash or other tragedy, families sometimes decide to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit. Who has the option of initiating wrongful death litigation in West Virginia?

Those in very specific circumstances can file

The rules for wrongful death lawsuits in West Virginia require very specific circumstances. A wrongful death lawsuit is only possible when there is evidence supporting the claim that the wrongful act, default or negligence of a business or individual caused someone’s death. A wrongful death lawsuit could be an option after a drunk driving crash, a product failure or an assault that causes fatal injuries.

Additionally, there will need to be economic losses related to the death that go beyond what insurance might pay. There could be car insurance, business insurance or premises liability insurance that applies after someone’s passing. If there are losses and evidence of misconduct or negligence, then a wrongful death lawsuit may be possible.

Only one party can actually file

In some states, wrongful death statutes allow specific family members to seek compensation after someone’s untimely passing. In West Virginia, state law specifically authorizes the personal representative of the deceased party’s estate to file a lawsuit against the party who caused the death.

Some people refer to personal representatives as estate administrators or executors. They will take action on behalf of the decedent’s estate. They must distribute any proceeds secured through a successful lawsuit to surviving immediate family members who may experience lasting consequences because of someone’s untimely passing.

Understanding what rules apply to wrongful death lawsuits in West Virginia may help people explore their options for seeking justice after a family tragedy.