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West Virginia Wrongful Death Attorneys

wrongful death

When a person dies due to the negligence or other wrongdoing of another, surviving family members are left with tremendous emotional harm. They may face significant financial losses as well.

West Virginia’s wrongful death law provides a way for those survivors to ease their pain and suffering. They may also seek compensation that can help them to meet the challenges created by a family member’s death.

wrongful death lawyer 1The attorneys of Mani Ellis & Layne, PLLC, can meet with you in a free consultation if you have lost a loved one due to another’s misconduct. We take a compassionate approach to wrongful death cases. We want to help you get through this challenging period in your life.

To learn more, contact us today by phone or online. Our wrongful death attorneys work with families in Charleston and throughout West Virginia. When you are ready to take action, we are ready to help. It’s not just business. It’s personal.

What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

You should know that a wrongful death lawsuit in West Virginia is similar in many ways to a personal injury claim. If a victim could have brought a personal injury lawsuit if his or her injury had not resulted in death, the victim’s estate has the right to bring a wrongful death claim.

For many families, taking legal action can lead to a sense of closure about what happened to their loved one.

Like a personal injury lawsuit, a wrongful death claim requires a showing of fault. This fault can arise in many different ways. Examples include:

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  • Car accidents – A death may be caused by a driver’s speeding, reckless driving, drunk driving, distracted driving or other negligence.
  • Medical malpractice – Many medical errors carry tragic consequences. Misdiagnoses, surgical errors and medication errors are examples. A death could be traced to a preventable infection while a patient was hospitalized.
  • Nursing home abuse or neglect – Too often, the elderly and disabled are put into harm’s way in nursing homes. The harm may be caused by physical and emotional abuse. It could also be the result of a nursing home’s failure to meet a basic standard of care. Neglect can lead to falls, bedsores and other potentially fatal injuries.
  • Workplace accidents – Deadly hazards can be encountered in many different lines of work, including coal mining and construction work.
  • Defective products – Fatal accidents can be caused by faulty automotive parts such as brakes, tires, gas tanks or air bags and by flawed consumer products such as toys or tools. Despite federal regulations, defective medical devices and dangerous prescription drugs too often make it onto the market.
  • Toxic materials — For many years, many members of the military and workers in a wide variety of fields were exposed to deadly asbestos, causing them to suffer mesothelioma. Entire communities can be put at risk by incidents such as the January 2014 Freedom Industries chemical spill.


Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Claim?

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A wrongful death claim in West Virginia must be brought by a “personal representative” of the deceased victim’s estate. Usually, a family member is appointed to serve that role.

The personal representative will to recover damages that can benefit the deceased victim’s:

  • Surviving spouse
  • Children (including adopted children and stepchildren)
  • Parents
  • Brothers and sisters
  • Any other persons who were financially dependent on the victim at the time of death.

The damages are distributed to eligible survivors by the jury in a verdict. The may also be left to a judge. If there are no survivors, the damages are distributed according to the victim’s will. If there is no will, the damages are distributed in accordance with our state’s laws of descent and distribution.


What Can Be Recovered in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

A wrongful death lawsuit in West Virginia can seek a recovery of both economic and non-economic damages.

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Economic damages may include:

  • Reasonably expected loss of the deceased victim’s income (what he or she would have earned over a normal life span)
  • Loss of the services, protection, care and assistance the victim would have provided
  • Care, treatment and hospitalization expenses arising from the victim’s injury
  • Reasonable funeral expenses

Non-economic damages may include:

  • Sorrow, mental anguish and solace
  • Loss of the victim’s society, companionship, comfort, guidance and “kindly offices”

Unlike in many other states, punitive damages may be sought as well in a West Virginia wrongful death claim. These damages serve to punish and deter certain forms of conduct.

Keep in mind: West Virginia takes the deceased victim’s own negligence into account. If the victim partially contributed to his or her death, compensation may be reduced. If the victim’s fault was equal to or greater than 50 percent, a recovery may be barred altogether.

How Can a Lawyer Help You to Pursue a Wrongful Death Claim?

A law firm such as Mani Ellis & Layne, PLLC, has the skill, experience and resources to investigate the cause of your loved one’s death. In addition to obtaining and reviewing evidence, we can consult with experts in accident reconstruction, workplace safety, medicine and other fields to determine why the death occurred and who should be held responsible.

We can also analyze available medical and financial records and consult with experts to arrive at an amount that would fairly and justly compensate survivors. We can aggressively negotiate for that amount in settlement talks with the at-fault party’s insurance company or else take a strong case into the courtroom on your behalf.

It is important to know that a wrongful death claim in West Virginia typically must be filed within two years from the date of death. An attorney must be given a reasonable amount of time to investigate a case. This is why you should seek legal counsel as soon as you are ready to take action.


Contact a Charleston Wrongful Death Attorney

The wrongful death lawyers of Mani Ellis & Layne, PLLC, are passionate about the assistance we can provide to those in Charleston and throughout West Virginia who have lost a loved one due to the wrongdoing of another. Our membership in the Million Dollar Advocates Forum® and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum® reflects our commitment to pursuing just compensation for each and every client.

We’re ready to help you today. Take the first step by calling or reaching us online.