Losing a loved one is difficult enough for families, but facing loss because of preventable injuries caused by negligence compounds the shock and grief. Many times, the loss of a family member also brings financial hardship, adding significant stress to a family in mourning. The law permits eligible Morgantown family members to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the person, business, or other party responsible for a loved one’s death.
While compensation, of course, will not undo the wrong your family has suffered, it can help significantly or completely ease the financial burden Morgantown families typically face in the aftermath of the wrongful death of their loved ones.
The empathetic and experienced Morgantown wrongful death attorneys at Wagoner Desai, PLLC can help you and your family fight for the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your wrongful death case and learn more about how we can help.
Wagoner Desai’s Results in Wrongful Death Cases
The skilled legal team at Wagoner Desai has recovered millions of dollars in damages from settlements and court awards for families who have lost loved ones due to negligence.
Examples of recent wrongful death case results include:
- $1.8 million settlement for a family whose son died at summer camp
- $1.3 million settlement for the family of a man who died after a tractor-trailer hit him on his motorcycle
- Six-figure settlement for a family whose loved one died from a defective drug
While we cannot guarantee a particular outcome for your Morgantown wrongful death case, as each claim has unique facts that increase or decrease their value, the experienced attorneys at Wagoner Desai have the knowledge and resources to build a strong case you need to obtain the maximum compensation possible.
Definition of Wrongful Death
While losing a loved one is always tragic, does not always create grounds for a wrongful death action. State law states that a wrongful death occurs when a “wrongful act, neglect, or default” leads to a person’s death, such that the person would have had a right to sue for compensation had they lived. Put another way, a wrongful death claim is a lawsuit in which a representative of the estate of the deceased takes legal action on behalf of the deceased against the party whose actions led to the deceased’s death.
A Wrongful Death Can Occur in Any Setting
Tragic, wrongful acts or neglect that leads to death can occur in many settings in Morgantown. At Wagoner Desai, we can handle all types of wrongful death claims.
Some common situations that lead to fatal injuries and might give rise to a wrongful death lawsuit include:
- Traffic accidents. Around 300 people die each year on West Virginia’s roads and highways. Vehicle accidents are the most common cause of wrongful deaths in the state. Fatal injuries are unfortunately in severe crashes. When negligent or reckless driving behaviors—such as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol or distracted driving—lead to fatal crashes, surviving family members could have grounds for a wrongful death claim.
- Workplace accidents. Morgantown folks are workers. In fact, some spend more time at work each day than they do at home or any other place. A workplace can pose a risk of injury in many different ways, especially for those who have dangerous professions. Occupational injuries and illnesses could be transportation-related accidents and occur because of heavy machinery, fires, explosions, toxic substance exposure, and much more. If your loved one died at work, you likely qualify for workers’ compensation death benefits. However, you might also have grounds for a wrongful death claim, depending on the circumstances of your loved one’s death.
- Medical malpractice. Medical errors and medical negligence sometimes have fatal consequences. Doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals have a legal duty to exercise an acceptable standard of care in serving their patients. Misdiagnoses, failure to diagnose a disease or condition, unnecessary surgeries, surgical errors, improper medication subscription, improper use of medical equipment, and a wide range of other mistakes or negligent acts open medical professionals and their employers up to liability in a Morgantown wrongful death claim.
- Defective product accidents. The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) reports several million defective product injuries each year, including some that lead to death. Product manufacturers have a legal obligation to only bring items to the market that are safe for public use or consumption. They also must warn users of dangerous aspects of a product. When a design or manufacturing defect in a product leads to death, any party involved in bringing the product to the public could potentially be liable for damages. Defective products can fall under any category ranging from cars, airbags, medication, medical devices, child products, furniture, household items, and more.
Seeking Damages in Morgantown Wrongful Death Cases
If you have a viable Morgantown wrongful death claim and you choose to bring a lawsuit, you could receive compensation related to the loss of your loved one, including:
- Emotional suffering and mental anguish
- Solace, which could include loss of society, companionship, guidance, comfort, and advice from the deceased
- Loss of expected income from the deceased
- Loss of services, protection, care, and assistance of the deceased
- Medical expenses incurred to treat your loved one for the accident leading up to death
- Funeral expenses
Morgantown Wrongful Death FAQs
The loss of a loved one brings an overwhelming amount of grief and sadness that can stop you in your tracks. You might feel overwhelmed, angry, and unsure about what’s to come next. It’s always best to consult with an experienced wrongful death attorney after someone else’s actions led to a loved one’s death. In the meantime, find below answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we receive from Morgantown wrongful death clients.
How much time do I have to bring a lawful death lawsuit in Morgantown?
The time to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Morgantown is dictated by state law, which generally gives eligible family members two years from the accident to file a lawsuit against any person, business, or another party that caused the wrongful death of a loved one. This time limit applies to the vast majority of cases. However, different statutes sometimes apply to different wrongful death situations. It’s best to contact an experienced Morgantown wrongful death lawyer immediately to ensure you do not miss the chance to recover damages related to the loss of your loved one.
Who can file a Morgantown wrongful death claim?
While family members may recover damages awarded in a wrongful death claim, West Virginia law requires that an appointed personal representative of the deceased’s estate file the lawsuit. The personal representative is sometimes a family member, the executor of the estate, or an attorney. In the event the lawsuit succeeds, the court may determine the proportion of the award going to each beneficiary and direct the distribution.
Those who could receive compensation from a wrongful death lawsuit include:
- Surviving spouse and children, including adopted children and step-children
- Brothers and sisters
- Other financial dependents
Siblings, parents, and others must provide evidence that they were financially dependent on their loved one at the time of death to receive compensation if a surviving spouse or children exist, or evidence of other damages (e.g. emotional anguish) they have suffered and which entitle them to compensation.
Is an autopsy required to bring a Morgantown wrongful death case?
An autopsy can provide insight into less-obvious causes of death. West Virginia requires an autopsy as directed by a chief or county medical examiner, or as directed by the prosecutor or court if the death is the subject of a criminal prosecution. This allows an investigation of the cause of death.
Autopsies are not automatically required in all wrongful death cases. However, your lawyer may still advise you to consent to an autopsy. Autopsies help confirm the cause of death, providing valuable evidence to support your claim and establish responsibility for damages. If the cause of death is clear, you typically do not need an autopsy. In cases involving medical malpractice, defective pharmaceuticals, and defective medical devices, autopsies are almost always needed to confirm the cause of death.
How long does it take to resolve a Morgantown wrongful death case?
Each case is different, so timelines for resolution of Morgantown wrongful death cases vary greatly. Cases will typically resolve much faster if the parties can settle, rather than go to a final trial. In some cases, you might settle more quickly than in others.
Factors that affect a wrongful death claim’s timeline include:
Establishing liability. Establishing fault is one of the biggest factors that affect how long you might need to wait to resolve your wrongful death claim. Sometimes multiple parties may be at-fault, creating a challenge for determining liability. Multiple parties also make it easier for insurance companies to pass blame around to avoid financial liability. The process of gathering evidence to determine who was at fault and to what extent can take substantial time. Trial requires even more preparation and coordinating schedules of everyone involved.
Insurance policy limits and unfair settlement offers. Policy limits vary greatly based on the type of policy. Commercial policies and homeowners’ policies typically have higher limits than auto insurance policies. Regardless, insurance carriers will avoid paying the maximum policy limit.
High insurance policy limits motivate insurance companies to fight harder to avoid a large payout, which includes deploying tactics to drag out the process. The involved insurance company will investigate the event that led to the loss of your loved one to see if they can avoid liability altogether or reduce the amount they have to pay out. If it is beyond dispute that their policyholder is at fault and the policyholder’s actions may be covered by the policy, the insurance company will do whatever they can to reduce the claim amount they need to pay.
If an insurance company drags out settlement talks to avoid paying up to the limits of the policy, going to trial may be a plaintiff’s only recourse. However, insurance companies are wary of leaving the award up to a jury, and may up their offer if it becomes clear you intend to take the case to trial. Either way, insurance companies, unfortunately, have tools to drag the process out, and the more they stand to pay out, the more they will use those tactics.
Do Morgantown courts award punitive damages in wrongful death claims?
Punitive damages, as opposed to compensatory damages, are damages intended to punish a defendant for especially egregious behavior. Punitive damages are potentially available in any kind of civil action but are generally more difficult to recover.
Wrongful death cases often involve the kind of egregious behavior that calls for punitive damages. That said, each wrongful death case is different, and you should never assume they will be part of your recovery.
Can I afford to hire a Morgantown wrongful death lawyer?
Yes—you can afford a Morgantown wrongful death lawyer at Wagoner Desai, PLLC. We offer free consultations for potential clients to discuss the event or events that led to a loved one’s death. And, if after consultation, you decide to bring legal action in a wrongful death case, you do not have to pay us anything upfront. Our wrongful death attorneys take cases on a contingent fee basis, meaning we deduct attorney fees from any compensation we secure for our clients, whether from a settlement payment or court award. Technically, then, you’ll pay us nothing—the at-fault party will.
How can a Morgantown wrongful death lawyer at Wagoner Desai, PLLC help my family and me?
Wrongful death lawyers help families obtain closure by holding those responsible for a loved one’s death accountable for damages the families suffer. A wrongful death attorney at Wagoner Desai, PLLC, can make all necessary filings to initiate a case, investigate the death and gather evidence and witnesses, negotiate for the best possible settlement, or take a case to a final trial. With our experience in wrongful death cases, Wagoner Desai, PLLC is ready to help you and your family in your wrongful death case so that you can recover the compensation you need to carry on after the loss of your loved one.
Contact a Morgantown Wrongful Death Lawyer During This Difficult Time
After losing a loved one, you and your family deserve compensation for the loss and grief you face due to another’s negligence, as well as for the expenses caused by the death and the loss of income your loved one would have contributed to your household.
Contact Wagoner Desai online or call (304) 470-2056 for a free consultation to discuss your case. Let our personal injury attorneys handle the details of your claim while you concentrate on dealing with your grief and finding a way to move forward during this difficult time.
Wagoner Desai, PLLC
265 High Street, 3rd Floor
Citizens Bank Building
Morgantown, WV 26505
Read more reviews on Google!