Each year, many preventable accidents are experienced by West Virginia residents that are harmful and that cause injury. Some of these accidents cause death. The wrongful death laws of West Virginia seek to provide financial recourse to family members and dependents who have lost a loved one because of someone else’s negligence, carelessness or other wrongdoing. Bringing a wrongful death claim is difficult. The process is detailed and arduous, and it can often feel like no one cares about the emotional trauma you are going through.
In the legal world, we refer to wrongful death as any death that could have—and should have—been prevented. Most wrongful deaths occur during accidents that are directly or indirectly caused by negligence, reckless behaviors or actions, or carelessness. At our law firm, we care. We take charge of the legal process for grieving families, including investigating the fatal accident, negotiating with insurance companies and fighting for you in court.
A wrongful death case is a claim made on behalf of someone killed as a result of the negligence of another. There are four elements that are required to prove a West Virginia wrongful death case. The attorney for the plaintiff must prove each of these in order to succeed in a settlement or court case.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death
Not every accidental case of death is considered “wrongful”. In order to establish a claim for wrongful death, there must be proof that the party who caused the fatality committed negligence. Further, it must be proven that the death could have been prevented if it weren’t for the responsible party’s negligent acts.
Common causes for wrongful death claims include:
- Auto accidents. Auto accidents claim thousands of lives every year. Surviving victims may be faced with long recoveries and life-changing conditions. These wrecks typically result from speeding, distracted driving, reckless driving, auto defects, drunk driving, and inexperience.
- Motorcycle accidents. Motorcycle accidents, while liberating, can be deadly because of their exposure and size.
- Trucking Accidents. Truck accidents can also result in wrongful death when truck drivers neglect their vehicle’s maintenance or drive for extended periods of time without stopping.
- Workplace accidents. When they neglect to follow the laws established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), employees are put at risk. The construction and transportation industries see a high number of wrongful deaths every year.
- Fatal Medical Malpractice. Medical malpractice can occur when a medical provider (doctor, surgeon, nurse, radiologist, anesthesiologist, lab technician, pharmacist or another health care professional) deviates from the accepted standard of care in his or her medical community. Medical negligence can result in serious injury or even death for the patient.
- Nursing Home Abuse. When a facility neglects their residents or intentionally abuses them physically or emotionally, the residents are at risk for sustaining serious injuries. A wrongful death could occur, especially if malnutrition or dehydration were abuse factors. Nursing homes are meant to care for an elderly, ill and vulnerable population. Too often, however, these facilities fail in their duties to keep residents safe. Whether the problem is caused by abuse or neglect, it can result in the wrongful death of a patient.
- Coal mining accidents. Everyone knows that coal mining comes with a certain amount of risk. Because of this risk, coal operators must meet certain safety standards mandated by both federal and state law. Unfortunately, history has proven that sometimes coal operators don’t follow those safety standards as they are required because some coal operators sacrifice safety in favor of higher profits. When that happens, the coal operator may be sacrificing the safety of the coal miner in favor of financial gain. Failure to follow mandatory safety standards often leads to a higher number of serious coal mining accidents and coal mining injuries.
- Recreation accidents. Activities intended for fun and recreation can sometimes result in serious life-threatening injuries or even death. Accidents and injuries may occur when the appropriate precautions are not taken, equipment is faulty or not properly maintained, or property owners or ride operators act negligently.
The death of a loved one is one of the most heartbreaking tragedies one can endure. The sadness and frustration is even greater when it occurs because of another’s careless behavior. Let us help you through the medical questions while relentlessly protecting your rights. Wrongful death cases include preventable deaths occurring due to medical malpractice, auto accidents, and defective products, and other accidents caused by another’s negligent or wrongful conduct.
What Compensation Is Available?
Under West Virginia law, the family can file a wrongful death claim for the damages suffered by the family as a result of the individual’s death. This can include:
- Sorrow, mental anguish and solace
- Loss of companionship, society, guidance, comfort, kindly offices, and advice.
- All costs related to the individual’s death, which may include medical bills from an illness or an injury
- Compensation for all lost wages and benefits; this can include amounts that would be expected should the individual had lived
- Compensation for all funeral and burial expenses
- Compensation for any type of damage to property or other items lost
Statute of limitations in West Virginia
As you mourn the loss of your loved one, we know initiating a lawsuit seems overwhelming. However, West Virginia’s statute of limitations maintains a strict deadline for filing your wrongful death claim. In most cases, you have only two years from the date your loved one died, or you forfeit your right to recover compensation. Our West Virginia Charleston law firm acts quickly and makes the legal process as easy as possible on your family during this difficult time.
Every death is tragic to someone – but the unexpected loss of a loved one can hurt in more ways than imaginable. Shaffer Law can pursue justice for surviving family members while they spend time with other loved ones and go through the grieving process.
Once you and an experienced Charleston, WV, Wrongful Death attorney agree on pursuing the wrongful death case, we will be able to take advantage of a vast array of resources and pretrial discovery strategies. If you have lost a loved one in West Virginia due to another’s negligence or wrongdoing, we invite you to call one of our experienced wrongful death attorneys today for a free case consultation.
Our WV personal injury attorneys at Shaffer Law will help get you the compensation you deserve. Focus on your recovery while we focus on the rest.