Wrongful Death Lawyer Serving West Virginia and Hagerstown Area
Also Practicing in Ranson, WV
The wrongful death attorneys at Burke, Schultz, Harman & Jenkinson have established a reputation for excellence in personal injury law. We have successfully handled many types of wrongful death cases, recovering substantial awards for surviving family members. Our office is dedicated to providing consistent and reliable legal representation to clients throughout West Virginia.
West Virginia sees more than its fair share of accidents and fatalities. When another party’s negligence results in a fatality, a wrongful death claim is the legal remedy to provide family members with justice and to recover damages from every negligent party.
The lawsuit is based on the irreparable trauma and suffering of bereaved survivors caused by the defendant’s negligence. Any person, business, or entity is capable of causing a wrongful death. Family members may be entitled to compensation from multiple parties if a combination of forces caused the death.
Examples of negligent conduct giving rise to a wrongful death claim include:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Mining accidents
- Occupational disease
- Construction accidents
- Defective products
- Medical malpractice
- Nursing home abuse
Wrongful death may be caused by intentional conduct, such as a homicide, or by negligence. Negligence refers to the breach of a duty owed to another party. Employers, for example, have a duty to protect their workers from unreasonable harm. This could require providing protective gear, inspecting work areas, or complying with federal safety standards.
If employers “breach” this duty, causing the death of an employee, they may be liable in damages to the decedent’s family. Family members must show that the party’s negligent conduct directly caused the death, either immediately or as a result of a preventable injury. In murder cases, the family may bring a wrongful death action that proceeds independently of the criminal case.
In West Virginia, the ability to bring a wrongful death action is generally limited to immediate family members such as spouses and children. “Children” include any biological, adopted, and stepchildren of the deceased. The law permits siblings, parents, and others who depended on the decedent financially to file suit. The action may also be brought by claimants who “would otherwise be equitably entitled to share in” the distribution of the wrongful death award. If the decedent has no survivors, damages are distributed according to the decedent’s will or by probate.
Eligible family members are entitled to several types of damages in a wrongful death case. First, they are entitled to costs for medical care, treatment, hospitalization, and reasonable funeral expenses. Second, they are entitled to compensation for the loss of income, services, protection, care, and assistance provided by the decedent. Finally, surviving family members are entitled to damages associated with the loss of relationship with the deceased. These damages for “sorrow, mental anguish, and solace” may include compensation for the loss of comfort, companionship, guidance, and advice of the decedent. The family may also recover “other expenses” incurred as a result of the wrongful act or neglect of the defendant, including attorney’s fees and costs.
If your family member died as a result of somebody’s negligence, contact the experienced wrongful death lawyers at Burke, Schultz, Harman & Jenkinson today. West Virginia law requires that families file a wrongful death claim within two years after the death, with very few exceptions. Failure to act promptly could result in the loss of important evidence or bar your right to relief. Our firm has over 100 years of combined legal experience litigating wrongful death claims and recovering million-dollar verdicts for clients in West Virginia. At Burke, Schultz, Harman & Jenkinson, we understand that the loss of a loved one is devastating. That is why we are dedicated to helping families pursue their claim with dignity and respect. Call 304-263-0900 or 800-903-0901 for a free consultation with a member of our dedicated legal team or contact us online.