Morgantown Wrongful Death Lawyer

Losing a loved one in an avoidable accident is an unnecessary tragedy that no one should have to experience. If you lost a loved one caused by someone else’s negligent or reckless conduct, you might have a right to compensation under a wrongful death claim. We know that no amount of money will make up for losing your loved one, but a monetary recovery can provide you and your family with some financial security after your loss.

The attorneys at Tiano O’Dell, PLLC, represent families who have lost loved ones in personal injury accidents. We stand up for our clients and pursue the justice and compensation that they deserve. For more than 20 years, we have handled wrongful death and other personal injury claims for clients in Morgantown and across West Virginia. We are committed to helping and protecting members of our community when they need it most.

Why Choose Our Wrongful Death Practice

  • We know that you and your family are grieving, and we want to help. Our compassionate attorneys will listen to your story, learn about how you have been impacted by your loss, and discuss your legal options. We will handle your case with the respect you deserve while seeking justice for your loved one.
  • We know that you may be facing financial struggles due to lost financial support, funeral expenses, and other unexpected expenses. We take our wrongful death claims on contingency so that our clients never pay out-of-pocket for attorneys’ fees. Our West Virginia personal injury attorneys are only paid after they have helped you win your case.
  • We have the knowledge and skills necessary to handle any type of wrongful death claim. We have access to a wealth of resources, and we use cutting-edge technology to investigate, value, and prove our cases. You can trust that our attorneys are fully prepared and motivated to pursue maximum compensation for your claim.

What is Wrongful Death?

Wrongful death is when you lose a loved one due to an accident that was caused by someone or something else. The loss of a loved one will always be a tragedy, however, not all wrongful deaths provide grounds for a viable wrongful death action. Under West Virginia wrongful death statute, a wrongful death has happened when a “wrongful act, neglect, or default” led to the death of a person. The circumstances of the death and wrongful act, neglect, or default must have been as such that the person who was killed would have had a right to sue for
compensation if they had lived through the accident.

Basically, in a wrongful death claim you step into the shoes of your loved one, and bring the claim for compensation that they could have brought had they survived the accident. Through the wrongful death lawsuit, a representative of the estate of the deceased person takes legal action on their behalf against the party whose actions, neglect, or default led to the death.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Morgantown?

The person or party that is able to file a wrongful death claim in Morgantown is determined by the statute in place. Under West Virginia law, for a party to bring a claim for wrongful death, an appointed representative of the deceased’s estate must file the lawsuit. Generally, the appointed representative of the deceased is a family member, the executor of the estate, or a personal injury attorney with a wrongful death practice.

Should your wrongful death lawsuit succeed, the court may then determine the proportion of the award that goes to each beneficiary, and will direct the distribution. Parties and persons who may receive compensation for a wrongful death lawsuit include:

  • The surviving family members of the deceased, including spouse, children, as well as
    adopted and step-children
  • Siblings of the deceased
  • Parents of the deceased
  • Others who are financially dependent upon the deceased

For parents, siblings, and some other parties, evidence must be provided to demonstrate that they were financially dependent upon their loved one at the time of their passing. This is necessary to receive compensation if a surviving spouse or children exist. Additional damages such as emotional anguish may also be available, so long as evidence is proved to demonstrate the entitlement to this compensation.

How a Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help

When you have lost a loved one due to the negligence, wrongful act, or default of another party, you will generally be filling your claim with that party’s insurance company. The insurance company collecting premiums from the party that caused your loved one’s death does not work for you, nor do they work for the party that caused the accident. Insurance companies work for profit, and their profits increase as their costs decrease, and payments to injured or killed persons are their primary costs.
To minimize costs and maximize revenues, insurance companies employ full-time teams of claim analysts and lawyers to carefully scrutinize all claims that come in. Whichever claims that lack enough evidence to prove damages are denied, while those claims that are approved are paid as little as possible on. Working with your own wrongful death attorney helps to even the playing field, and to ensure that you are not taken advantage of by the insurance company and receive less than you are entitled to.

Our attorneys understand the importance of your claim and the compensation that you receive. We help surviving family members secure compensation for their losses and ensure that responsible parties are held accountable for their actions. Our attorneys will begin your case by investigating the accident, gathering evidence that supports your claim, and proving liability for your loved one’s death. We will help you through the legal process and keep you informed about the status of your claim as your case progresses.

A primary value of having an attorney on your wrongful death claim is the fact that they take the stress out of your day-to-day life. Getting past the tragic loss of a loved one is difficult, and it is even  more difficult to learn what law and case precedent is relevant to your loved one’s accident, and to then effectively apply this into your claim or case. Case precedent is the outcome of other cases that are similar to yours, and is used to help guide the court in terms of its current decisions based upon these past outcomes. Studying caselaw to identify the appropriate precedents can take even a trained attorney quite a bit of time, and with one helping on your case, you won’t have to.
Your wrongful death attorney steps into your shoes, and takes over every step of the process for you. This includes the collection of evidence to identify the parties at fault, and the collection of evidence to accurately measure the damages associated with the wrongful death. You can only collect damages that you can prove with evidence, and your wrongful death attorney uses legal instruments like depositions, interrogatories, and requests for production to collect the evidence you need to make the strongest possible case.

The Value of Your Claim

The amount you are entitled to through your wrongful death claim depends upon the unique facts and circumstances of the accident that led to the deceased’s death, as well as the value that your loved one contributed to your household, both financial and emotional. The purpose of a wrongful death claim is to put your family in as close a position as possible as though the accident had never happened.

While your loved one can never be replaced, the value of the contributions they provided to your household can be. To accomplish this, the financial value of their contribution from the time of their accident through their working life must be calculated, then converted into present value. This requires an understanding of complex math concerning present and future values, as well as the collection of evidence to accurately measure what your loved one may have contributed in the future.

The value of your claim is based on the losses that you and other surviving family members have suffered due to losing your loved one. In West Virginia, surviving family members can recover compensation for monetary and emotional losses. Monetary losses that are commonly recovered include loss of the decedent’s financial support and household services, medical expenses, and funeral expenses. The money they contributed to your household, and the cost of death expenses, should all be covered in your compensation.

Examples of emotional damages include mental anguish, sorrow, and loss of companionship. Measuring these amounts can be difficult given the abstract nature of emotions, but with an experienced wrongful death attorney by your side a fair and appropriate amount will be determined and incorporated into your claim.

What Types of Wrongful Death Cases Do You Handle in Morgantown?

Wrongful deaths are tragedies that can happen in a wide variety of situations. The most common situations that lead to fatal injuries that may enable you to bring a wrongful death lawsuit include:

  • Traffic accidents
  • Medical malpractice
  • Workplace accidents
  • Defective product accidents

Contact Our Morgantown Wrongful Death Attorneys

Wrongful death claims can be complicated, but attorneys at Tiano O’Dell, PLLC, can make the financial recovery process easier. Contact our office to schedule a no-obligation consultation to discuss your accident and legal options. We will listen to your story, answer your questions, and provide you with a free case evaluation.