West Virginia Wrongful Death Attorneys
Have you lost a loved one due to an act of negligence? Losing someone close to you is devastating under any circumstances, but when a loved one suffers an untimely death because of the negligent or reckless actions of another person or party, the pain is much more difficult to endure.
Since 1970, the attorneys at Bailey, Javins & Carter, L.C., have helped families like yours recover compensation after a loved one was taken away from them too soon. Our lawyers have in-depth knowledge of West Virginia wrongful death statutes, and we put our extensive experience to work to stand up for those who have lost someone close to them, and to help ensure that those responsible for their death are held fully accountable.
We will help you get answers about why this tragedy occurred. We will conduct a full investigation of the circumstances that resulted in your loved one’s death, and we will gather all the facts and preserve all the critical pieces of evidence, so we can get to the bottom of what happened. While we know that nothing can bring back a lost loved one and there is no amount of money that can ever be considered fair compensation, we will help you recover everything you are entitled to.
Skilled Wrongful Death Representation Inside the Workplace and Out
We want you to know that we will be here for you throughout this process, and not just in terms of the wrongful death claim. There will be additional issues related to your loved one’s estate that need to be addressed even before the claim can be pursued. We will handle that and everything else, up through the judicial approval of the settlement at the end of the case. You will be free to be with your family during this trying time while we take care of all the complex legal issues that may arise.
Much of our reputation was built on the basis of our successful representation of victims of coal mine accidents and black lung and other lung diseases.
We’ve represented fallen miners and families from all over WV including the following mines:
- Senaca Coal Pinnacle Mine
- Patriot Coal Brody Mine
- Upper Big Branch
- Rock Springs Development Mine
- Robinson Run Development Mine
- Spartan Mining’s Roadfork 51 mine
- Murray’s Marion County Coal Mine
- Pocahontas Mine
Wrongful Death Lawsuits in West Virginia
A wrongful death claim is a civil claim that seeks monetary damages when a person’s death is caused by another person or party. This type of action is similar to a personal injury lawsuit, except that the injured party is deceased. A wrongful death claim can be brought in civil court even if there is an ongoing criminal case for the same death.
There are several categories of damages that may be available through a wrongful death action, these include:
- Medical bills related to the injury that caused the decedent’s death;
- Damaged or lost property related to the death;
- Funeral and burial costs;
- Lost wages and benefits, including loss of future wage and benefits the decedent would have been reasonably expected to earn;
- Loss of services and care provided by the decedent;
- Sorrow, mental anguish, and solace;
- Loss of companionship, society, guidance, comfort, kindly offices, and the advice of the decedent.
In some more limited cases, punitive damages may also be awarded in a wrongful death action. This category of damages is normally only awarded if the responsible party acted willfully, recklessly, or with malicious intent to cause harm to the victim. Punitive damages are not meant as compensation, but rather to “punish” the wrongdoer and help deter them (and others) from engaging in similarly egregious behavior in the future.
Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Claim?
In West Virginia, a wrongful death lawsuit can only be brought by the personal representative of the decedent’s estate. This may be the person who is designated in the will as executor, or if there is no will, a personal representative is appointed by the courts during probate. This person is usually a close relative of the decedent, although that is not always the case.
It is important to note that if the decedent had already brought a personal injury action (prior to their death) against the party responsible for their injury, that claim may be revived by their personal representative, and this action would be brought alongside a separate and distinct wrongful death claim.
Although wrongful death claims are brought by the personal representative of the estate, damages are awarded based on what the jury or court deems to be “fair and just”, and the jury or court may direct in what proportions damages will go to eligible surviving family members. If there are no survivors who are eligible for compensation, then damages are distributed in accordance with the decedent’s will. If there are no survivors and no will, then the jury or court may distribute damages to those who had financial relationships with the decedent and related parties.
Family members who may be eligible for compensation from a wrongful death lawsuit include:
- The surviving spouse;
- Children, including stepchildren and those who are legally adopted;
- Siblings and parents;
- Anyone who was financially dependent on the decedent at the time the death occurred.
Statute of Limitations in West Virginia Wrongful Death Claims
In most cases, the personal representative of a decedent’s estate has just two years from the date of the decedent’s death to file a wrongful death lawsuit. If a claim is not file within the required timeframe, it may be dismissed by the court. Two years may seem like plenty of time, but it can take several months in some cases for a personal representative to be appointed by the court. And from beginning to end, wrongful death actions involve several other complicated steps. For this reason, it is best to get in touch with an attorney as soon as possible to review your case.
Free Initial Consultation with a West Virginia Fatal Accident Attorney
If you have lost a loved one because of someone else’s negligence or careless actions, you should consult with an experienced attorney to discuss your legal rights and options. At Bailey, Javins, and Carter, L.C., we know what it takes to successfully pursue full and fair compensation in a wrongful death claim, and we are ready to go to help you with your claim.
Call our office today at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979 to schedule a free initial consultation with our personal injury lawyers in Charleston, Logan or Summersville.
We work on a contingent fee basis. We do not get paid unless you do.