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Charleston Wrongful Death Lawyer

Charleston Wrongful Death Lawyer

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) outlines how at least 224,935 Americans lose their lives due to unintentional injury deaths each year.

This means that this is the fourth-leading cause of death in our country. We provide these statistics to you to illustrate how some of the circumstances that might have led to your family member’s life, unfortunately, probably have happened to someone else.

And, because of the sheer number of individuals who suffer harm annually, a Charleston wrongful death lawyer in our office has likely helped them seek justice. And we want to help you, too.

Our experience in working with families left behind after a loved one’s demise is that it impacts them emotionally, financially, and in many other ways. West Virginia law provides surviving family members with one key legal remedy when situations, including unfortunate deaths like these, occur. It allows victims to file an insurance claim or lawsuit.

Each of the attorneys on our Hendrickson & Long, PLLC team has extensive experience helping families like yours navigate the often-complex legal process to ensure they hold negligent parties accountable so they can recover maximum compensation. Contact us for a free consultation to discuss your potential case.

How West Virginia Defines Wrongful Death

West Virginia Code §55-7-5 describes any person’s passing caused by a “wrongful act, neglect, or default” as wrongful death.

Types of Preventable Death Cases

Various types of accidents that are attributable to someone else’s negligence, including the following, can result in someone prematurely losing their life:

  • Motor vehicle accidents: This can include boat crashes, car wrecks, incidents where pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, or boats get struck, tractor-trailer collisions, and all-terrain vehicle (ATV) or recreational vehicle accidents.
  • Medical malpractice: This is a category that spans anything from prescription drug dispensing or administration errors to delayed diagnosis, misdiagnosis, and informed consent issues. Also, anesthesia mistakes, surgical errors, and childbirth injuries are all examples of medical negligence as well that can unnecessarily claim a patient’s life.
  • Nursing home abuse: While all types of abusive or neglectful treatment can occur in a nursing home, physical abuse, such as punching, emotional abuse, which leads to the onset of depression or anxiety and the development of suicidal thoughts, and neglect, which may involve withholding critical medical care and can lead to infections and falls, are perhaps the most likely issues to result in a preventable, premature death.
  • Product liability issues: Poor designs, manufacturing, and advertising can lead to defective and dangerous products making it onto the market and into consumers’ hands. Retailers’ handling of those items once delivery of them occurs or they’re on store shelves can also lead to product performance integrity issues. Defective products can cause burns and many other injuries that unexpectedly claim a person’s life.
  • Premises liability situations: From inadequate lighting and negligent security situations to slip and fall dangers, physical assaults, and attractive nuisance issues, these are just some of many circumstances under which someone might suddenly die due to another’s negligence.
  • Workplace accidents: This category is one into which various types of accidents may fall, including logging incidents, construction accidents, coal mining disasters, and oil and gas accidents. However, injury incidents involving dangerous machinery, for example, in a manufacturing setting or even worker-on-worker violence, are also examples of potentially fatal worksite accidents.

There are certainly plenty of other types of accidents or incidents that may rob a family of a valued family member earlier than they should have left them.

If you believe someone’s negligent actions resulted in your close relative suffering harm, contact a Charleston wrongful death lawyer to discuss your concerns. We’ll analyze any evidence you have gathered together, and the attorney you meet with will let you know if they believe you have a pursuable claim per West Virginia law.

Who Can You Hold Liable When a Loved One Dies?

During your initial meeting with an attorney, you can expect them to ask you about the progression of events leading up to the fatal accident that took your loved one’s life. Your answers will dictate whether you have a claim you can pursue and, if so, who you hold liable for the damages you incurred.

Some of the potentially liable parties may include:

  • Trucking companies
  • Passenger car drivers, including drowsy, distracted, recklessly driving, and drunk motorists
  • Health care professionals, like doctors, nurses, and pharmacists
  • Product manufacturers, including pharmaceutical companies and automobile makers
  • Homeowners
  • Government agencies responsible for maintaining sidewalks or road design
  • Nursing home facilities and their staff
  • Business owners

Who Can File Death Claims in Charleston, WV?

Our state’s laws only allow the personal representative of a decedent’s estate to bring a wrongful death action.

Who Can Receive Settlement Funds

West Virginia Code §55-7-6 describes who is eligible to receive a wrongful death settlement as surviving family members and others, such as:

  • A spouse
  • Children, stepchildren, or adopted kids
  • Parents
  • Siblings
  • Others who depended on the decedent for support

Damages and Recovery Caps

There’s no cap on how much in economic damages recoverable in wrongful death cases in our state.

So, if your loved one was life-flighted to a hospital in an effort to save their life after an accident, underwent emergency surgery, and then remained in the intensive care unit (ICU) for some time after that before their passing, you would be able to demand compensation for those expenses.

Recovering compensation for lost wages sustained by your family member pre-death and lost future earnings now that they’re gone would also be possible.

And, of course, petitioning for reimbursement of funeral and burial costs would also be possible.

Now, there is a cap applicable to non-economic damages in personal injury claims in our state, and it’s $500,000 in wrongful death cases. Losses that fit into this category include pain and suffering, loss of companionship or support, mental anguish, and others.

Statute of Limitations in Death Cases in West Virginia

There’s a 2-year timeline for bringing a claim after a loved one loses their life due to someone else’s negligent actions. This filing deadline generally starts counting down from a decedent’s actual date of death.

While this date motivates many prospective plaintiffs like yourself to put off contacting an attorney to start building a case until after they’ve had some time to grieve their loss, don’t. Doing so could make it challenging to compile all necessary evidence to prove negligence and, thus, affect your ability to win your claim and recover compensation.

Even if you’re able to secure a settlement, the award amount could be greatly reduced by the amount and significance of the evidence presented.

Why You Should Have Legal Counsel Represent You

Our state’s laws don’t require surviving family members to be represented by an attorney to pursue a wrongful death action; however, it’s recommendable that you do so.


Wrongful death attorneys:

  • Have a comprehensive understanding of West Virginia wrongful death statutes, i.e., what constitutes negligence, what modified comparative fault is, what the recovery caps and statute of limitations are, and how to apply them to victims’ cases
  • Thoroughly investigate prospective and existing clients’ cases, even going as far as bringing in crash reconstructionists, medical reviewers, and others, if needed, to make sense of causation, liability, etc.
  • Gather together all necessary evidence, draft a narrative of what happened, and present that demand packet to insurance companies requesting compensation
  • Negotiate with insurance companies to secure a maximum and fair settlement in your case and take your case to trial when reaching a just one isn’t achievable through negotiation

The Cost of Hiring a Lawyer

While you’d be better off hiring a lawyer to represent your interests if a loved one has died, you may envision it being cost-prohibitive to do so. You’ll be relieved to learn that there’s no cost to hire a Charleston wrongful death attorney from our office to get to work for you.

We take on cases involving preventable deaths like your loved one’s on a contingency basis.

This means that we only assess attorney’s fees if we recover compensation for your loss on your behalf. Any percentage of fees we collect when we’re successful in securing a settlement for you is disclosed before you hire a lawyer from our firm to represent you.

Now, there are nominal fees, such as ones for records requests, court filing, printing, photocopying, or postage, that we must pass on to you regardless of the outcome of the case; however, those costs are quite minimal. We provide you with a detailed accounting of any of those fees.

It’s important to emphasize, though, that our legal team is very selective with the cases we take on.

We only agree to represent clients when we believe we have the strongest potential of winning their cases.

Getting Help From an Attorney Who Handles Wrongful Death Cases

We understand how disruptive and unnerving it can be to suddenly lose a loved one.

We also know how hard it can be just trying to hold life together right now, and that’s where we can help. Let us assess whether you have a viable claim and, if so, sign a representation agreement.

With that, we can get to work for you.

And, while we can’t give you back your loved one, and we certainly know no amount of money will replace the emotional void their loss has left on your life, it’s what our West Virginia legal system provides as a means of seeking justice.

So, let us help you navigate our civil legal system.

Contact our law firm as soon as possible to schedule a free initial consultation with a Charleston wrongful death lawyer to preserve your rights.

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Call us or fill out the form on the right to tell us about your potential case. An attorney will get back to you as quickly as possible.