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A wrongful death lawsuit is a form of legal recourse available when a person dies due to negligence. If the legal case is successful, it could result in financial compensation from the at-fault party.
If you have lost a loved one due to another person’s careless or reckless actions, a compassionate attorney can help. With the guidance of legal counsel, you could hold the responsible party accountable and recover damages to secure your family’s financial future. Let a Beckley wrongful death lawyer advise you on your next steps.
Not every death will result in a viable civil lawsuit. In order for a party to recover monetary damages through a wrongful death claim, a person’s passing must be the result of a wrongful act, default, or neglect.
In many ways, a wrongful death lawsuit exists to prevent a negligent party from benefiting from the death of the person they harmed. These types of cases are treated like a personal injury lawsuit that the decedent could have brought had he or she survived. A knowledgeable Beckley attorney can provide further insight into what makes a wrongful death case viable.
Oftentimes, the circumstances that lead to a wrongful death lawsuit could also serve as the basis for criminal prosecution. That does not mean the two processes are the same. A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil proceeding that is entirely separate from any criminal charge.
While these two separate cases might stem from the same incident, the potential outcomes are very different. A criminal case can lead to jail time, fines, and other statutory penalties. A successful wrongful death lawsuit instead leads to a monetary award from the responsible party.
Many jurisdictions give the surviving relatives of a deceased person the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit on their own. However, that is not the case in West Virginia. According to the law, only the designated personal representative of the decedent’s estate may file a wrongful death lawsuit.
The personal representative acts on behalf of the estate, but any proceeds from a wrongful death claim will go to the surviving relatives. The proceeds of these claims are split between specific relatives, beginning with the surviving spouse of the decedent. Other relatives that could recover compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit include:
In cases where none of the qualifying relatives are alive, the proceeds of a lawsuit will be distributed according to the decedent’s will. If there is no last will and testament, the court will distribute the assets pursuant to state law. A local wrongful death attorney can further explain which parties are entitled to compensation and help guide a family through the legal process.
Losing a loved one is a devastating experience, especially if another person’s negligent actions caused the death. Speak with a dedicated attorney about your options for holding the wrongdoer accountable and seeking justice.
Navigating this difficult process can be simpler with the right legal advocate by your side. A Beckley wrongful death lawyer is here to provide guidance during this challenging time. Call today to discuss your situation.
Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law