When a loved one is taken too soon, it leaves an empty spot in our lives that is hard to fill. The loss of someone dear is further complicated when the person dies due to the negligence or wrongdoing of someone else. If you have lost a loved one because of someone’s mistake, poor judgment, reckless behavior, or intentional action, then you may be able to file a wrongful death claim against the person responsible. Our Morgantown wrongful death attorney can help you identify potential defendants in a wrongful death action and lay out the legal options you have for getting the justice your loved one deserves.
While no amount of money can return your loved one to you or replace the void that is left in your life by his or her untimely departure, a wrongful death award is meant to ease the financial burden of losing a spouse, parent or other close relatives. Essentially, the courts look to make your family financially whole again by replacing the financial contribution that the deceased made to your financial situation. In some cases, non-economic damages may also be awarded; this type of compensation is for emotional trauma, loss of consortium and love, anquish, solace and sorrow, as well as other psychological damages. Moreover, if the act that resulted in the wrongful death was particularly malicious, courts may seek to punish the at-fault party with punitive damages as a deterrent for future acts.
When someone dies and another person is to blame for their death, then it is classified as a wrongful death. The defendant in a wrongful death action may be an individual, a company, or even a government agency. For example, doctors can be charged for wrongful death when their actions fall below the standard of care and death results. The driver in a DUI crash that kills someone can be sued for wrongful death. A company manufacturing a product that caused someone’s death may also face wrongful death charges. All wrongful death suits play out in civil court, however, not criminal court. However, it is not unusual for a defendant to be simultaneously facing a wrongful death claim in civil court during or after a criminal proceeding related to the death. We saw this play out in the O.J. Simpson case when a jury acquitted Simpson but a civil court found sufficient evidence to award the families in the case with wrongful death awards.
It is typically the husband or wife of the deceased that initiate a wrongful death claim. However, children, including any adopted children, parents of the deceased and other survivors can also be considered plaintiffs in such actions, provided they have a right to recover. In West Virginia, any family member who derived financial support from the decedent at the time of the decedent’s passing may have grounds for a wrongful death claim.
Consulting with the legal team at Shenderovich, Shenderovich, and Fishman about the death of your loved one is the first step toward bringing your wrongful death claim to the courts. It is imperative that you act right away following the passing of your loved one since there is a two-year limit for the estate of the decedent to file such a claim. Set up your free case review with our Morgantown wrongful death attorney now.