If you have lost somebody that you love as a result of the careless, negligent, or intentional actions of another individual, you need to take steps immediately to secure a skilled Charleston, West Virginia wrongful death lawyer today. At Tiano O’Dell, our dedicated personal injury attorneys have experience handling complex wrongful death claims throughout West Virginia, and we know what it takes to ensure that families receive the compensation and closure they are entitled to.
Charleston Wrongful Death Resources
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What is a Wrongful Death Claim?
Types of Wrongful Death Claims We Handle
Who can File a Charleston Wrongful Death Claim?
Time Limit on Wrongful Death Claims
Can Wrongful Death Lead to a Criminal Case?
Speak to an Attorney Today
What is a Wrongful Death Claim in Charleston, WV?
Wrongful death claims arise when a person loses their life as a result of another’s negligence. This can include the negligence of another individual, business, or other entity. If the careless, negligent, or intentional actions of another lead to death, then the at-fault party may be held liable for the damages that result.
Types of Wrongful Death Claims We Handle at Tiano O’Dell
The Charleston, West Virginia injury attorneys at Tiano O’Dell have experience handling wrongful death claims that arise in various ways. This includes the following:
- Car accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Bus accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Truck accidents
- Drunk driving accidents
- Boating accidents
- Medical malpractice claims
- Nursing home negligence
- Workplace or industrial accidents
- Defective products
- Premises liability claims
- Construction accidents
Why Hire a Charleston Wrongful Death Attorney?
Here are some reasons why hiring a Charleston wrongful death attorney is crucial:
Knowledge of Wrongful Death Laws
A wrongful death attorney specializes in this area of law and has a deep understanding of the legal requirements and procedures involved in such cases. They can navigate through the legal system on your behalf and ensure your rights are protected.
Building a Strong Case
A wrongful death attorney will investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of your loved one. They will gather evidence, interview witnesses, consult with experts if necessary, and build a solid case to establish liability. They understand what evidence is needed to prove negligence or wrongful conduct and can effectively present it in court.
A wrongful death attorney will assess the full extent of your damages and ensure that your family receives justice and is adequately compensated.
Dealing with Insurance Companies
Wrongful death cases often involve dealing with insurance companies representing the at-fault party. Insurance companies are focused on minimizing their liability and may try to settle for less than you deserve. A wrongful death attorney will handle all communications, negotiate on your behalf, and protect your interests.
Support and Guidance
Losing a loved one is emotionally devastating, and pursuing a legal case can add to the stress and burden. A wrongful death attorney can provide much-needed support and guidance throughout the process. They can explain your legal options, answer your questions, and provide compassionate assistance during this difficult time.
Who can File a Charleston Wrongful Death Claim?
According to West Virginia Code section 55-7-6, the personal representative of the deceased’s estate the file a wrongful death claim in court. Often, the personal representative is a family member of the deceased. If damages are awarded in the case, various surviving family members may be eligible to receive payments. Under West Virginia law, the following family members may receive compensation through a wrongful death claim:
- The surviving spouse of the deceased
- The deceased’s children, including stepchildren and adopted children
- The parents of the deceased
- The deceased’s siblings, including stepsiblings and adopted siblings
- Any other person was financially dependent upon the deceased at the time of death
Is There a Time Limit for Filing a Charleston Wrongful Death Claim?
In general, the personal representative of the deceased person has a two-year window with which to file a wrongful death claim against the alleged negligent party. However, there are various exceptions to this rule, such as situations where vital information about the wrongful death was not discovered until after the death occurred. Please work with a Charleston wrongful death attorney when making decisions about filing these claims.
Potential Compensation in a Wrongful Death Claim
Here are some common types of compensation that may be sought in a wrongful death claim:
This includes quantifiable financial losses resulting from the death. It may cover medical expenses incurred prior to death, funeral and burial expenses, and loss of financial support, including the income the deceased would have provided to the family had they survived.
These are intangible losses that are not easily calculated but can be significant. They may include compensation for the loss of companionship, guidance, emotional support, and consortium (the loss of a spousal relationship).
In certain cases involving egregious or intentional misconduct, punitive damages may be awarded to punish the responsible party and deter others from engaging in similar behavior. However, punitive damages are not awarded in every wrongful death case and are subject to specific legal requirements and limitations.
Comparative Fault & West Virginia Wrongful Death Lawsuits
In West Virginia, the concept of comparative fault applies to wrongful death lawsuits. Comparative fault, also known as comparative negligence, is a legal principle that determines how damages are awarded when multiple parties share some level of fault for an incident.
West Virginia follows a modified comparative negligence system with a 50% bar rule. Under this rule, an injured party (or the representative of a deceased person in a wrongful death claim) can still recover damages as long as their level of fault does not exceed 50%. For example, if the deceased person is found to be 20% at fault, the eligible damages will be reduced by that percentage. However, if the deceased is found to have held 50% or more of the blame, the family is barred from recovering any damages.
Choosing the Right Attorney for Your Case
When looking for a Charleston wrongful death attorney, there are several important factors to consider:
Seek an attorney with in-depth knowledge and experience in handling wrongful death claims. They should have a deep understanding of the relevant laws, regulations, and procedures, enabling them to navigate the complexities of these cases more effectively.
Look for an attorney who has successfully handled similar cases in the past and has a track record of achieving favorable outcomes for their clients.
Research the attorney’s reputation within the legal community and among their clients. Read reviews, testimonials, and case results to gauge their professionalism, ethical standards, and client satisfaction.
Resources and Support
Consider whether the attorney has access to the necessary resources and support staff to handle your case efficiently. Wrongful death cases often involve extensive investigations, expert consultations, and thorough preparation. Ensure that the attorney has the capacity to gather evidence, build a strong case, and provide the level of attention your case deserves.
Compassion and Empathy
An attorney who demonstrates compassion, empathy, and sensitivity towards you and your family can provide the support and understanding you need while guiding you through the legal process.
Effective communication is crucial when working with an attorney. They should be able to explain complex legal concepts in a clear and understandable manner. They should also be responsive to your questions, concerns, and updates about your case, ensuring you are informed about the progress and developments.
Make sure you understand the fee arrangement and any additional costs or expenses associated with your case.
Cost of a Charleston Wrongful Death Lawyer
Many Charleston wrongful death lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. Here is how a contingency fee arrangement typically works:
- No upfront costs: You will not be required to pay any upfront fees or retainer. This can be particularly beneficial if you are facing financial challenges due to the loss of your loved one.
- Payment from the settlement or award: If the lawyer is successful in obtaining a settlement or winning the case, their fee will be a percentage of the total amount recovered. The specific percentage is 33.3% on average and is typically agreed upon at the beginning of the representation. It is important to clarify the exact percentage and how it will be calculated during the initial consultation.
- Deduction of costs and expenses: In addition to the attorney’s fee, there may be costs and expenses associated with the case, such as filing fees, expert witness fees, court costs, and investigation expenses. These costs are typically deducted from the client’s share of the settlement or award before the attorney’s fee is calculated.
- No fee if no recovery: If the lawyer is unable to secure a settlement or win the case, they will not charge a fee for their services.
Contingency fees are designed to provide access to skilled legal representation for individuals who may not have the financial means to pay hourly rates or upfront fees. They also align the lawyer’s interests with the client’s, as the attorney’s payment is contingent upon achieving a successful outcome.
Can There be a Criminal Case as Well?
Yes, it is entirely possible that there could be a criminal case surrounding the death as well. We do want to point out that criminal charges against the person allegedly responsible for the death are not the same thing as a civil wrongful death lawsuit. These are two separate legal actions in two different courts. Family members should get started on their wrongful death claim as soon as possible, regardless of whether or not a criminal charge has been filed against the person allegedly responsible.
Call a Charleston, WV Wrongful Death Attorney Today
If you have lost somebody you love as a result of the careless, negligent, or intentional actions of another person, please seek assistance from the attorneys at Tiano O’Dell today. Our compassionate and experienced team has the resources necessary to conduct a complete investigation into the case and help your family receive the closure and compensation you are entitled to. If you need a Charleston, West Virginia wrongful death attorney, you can contact us for a free consultation online or by calling (304) 720-6700.