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How to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in West Virginia

November 11, 2021 | Wrongful Death

If you have lost a loved one as a result of the careless, negligent, or wrongful actions of another individual or entity in West Virginia, then we know this is a difficult time for you and your family. You have difficult choices to make, including whether or not to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Here, we want to discuss how you can go about filing a wrongful death claim in West Virginia.

Please speak to a skilled wrongful death attorney who can help you handle every aspect of these claims so that you do not have to go up against the at-fault party by yourself.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in WV?

Unlike other states across the country, surviving family members or not responsible for filing wrongful death lawsuits in West Virginia. Under WV law, the personal representative, also referred to as the executor, of the deceased’s estate is responsible for filing a wrongful death lawsuit in civil court (W.Va. Code § 55-7-5 (2021).

Consult With an Attorney Before You do Anything

If you have lost a loved one due to the negligent or wrongful actions of someone else in West Virginia, or if you are the personal representative of the deceased’s estate, we strongly encourage you to contact a skilled wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. It is important to understand that these claims must be filed within two years from the date of death, per the West Virginia wrongful death statute of limitations. Failing to file these claims within the required amount of time will likely result in the court dismissing the claim entirely.

We regularly speak to family members and personal representatives who think they can file these claims without assistance from an attorney. We strongly advise against this. Wrongful death claims can become incredibly complex, and they require extensive investigation. A skilled attorney will be responsible for:

  • Obtaining any evidence needed to prove liability, including photo or video surveillance of the incident, statements from eyewitnesses, accident or police reports, and more.
  • Working with trusted financial and economic experts who can examine the situation and adequately calculate total expected future losses resulting from the loss of life.
  • Handle negotiations with the at-fault party as well as their insurance carrier and legal teams in order to recover maximum compensation on behalf of the personal representative and family.
  • Fully preparing the West Virginia wrongful death case for trial if necessary to ensure all parties are treated fairly.

The reason that we encourage you to speak with an attorney is that accomplishing all of those tasks typically takes a significant amount of resources and legal experience. An attorney will usually take wrongful death cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that the estate and family will not be responsible for paying legal fees until after they successfully recover compensation for their losses.