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Recovering Compensation For Truck Accident Fatalities In West Virginia

Losing a loved one as a result of a truck accident is devastating. If you’ve recently lost a family member in this way, you may be in a strong position to pursue compensation for your loss. Consider reaching out to an attorney to learn more about wrongful death claims for fatal truck accidents in West Virginia. At Salango Law, our Charleston, West Virginia law firm is dedicated to advocating on behalf of truck accident victims and their loved ones. Please call us at 304-342-0512 or contact us online for a free consultation today.

What Is A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

If your loved one died due to a truck collision, you might be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against any party that contributed to the cause(s) of the accident. When someone dies because of another’s negligence, recklessness, or intentionally dangerous conduct, West Virginia law allows the deceased person’s personal representative to take legal action.

Winning A Wrongful Death Lawsuit

You must prove several realities to navigate a wrongful death lawsuit successfully against the party or parties that caused your loved one’s death. To win, you must demonstrate that the defendant was responsible—or partially responsible—for your loved one’s death and the loss your family has suffered:

  • The defendant caused or contributed to the cause of the truck accident.
  • The defendant was negligent, reckless, or behaved in intentionally dangerous ways, breaching their duty of care to your loved one. If, for example, the driver who caused the accident was driving while intoxicated and caused the crash due to that intoxication, that individual’s negligence caused your loved one’s death.
  • The death affected the family. For example, if your loved one left behind young children, they lost a caregiver and provider. Your family might face significant financial problems if the accident victim was the primary breadwinner for your family.

Who Can File A Wrongful Death Lawsuit In West Virginia?

Under West Virginia Code § 55-7-6, only the personal representative of the deceased’s estate has legal standing to file a lawsuit. West Virginia law differs from other states that allow family members to directly pursue legal action.

To file a wrongful death lawsuit, you must be your loved one’s personal representative. A personal representative is an individual responsible for carrying out a deceased person’s wishes after their death.

  • If your loved one had a will, the will likely names a personal representative, often referred to as an executor.
  • If your loved one passed away without a will, the probate court appoints an administrator of your loved one’s estate. You can apply to become an administrator. Courts typically appoint close family members as estate administrators when people die intestate (without a will).

If you file a wrongful death lawsuit as your loved one’s personal representative, you’ll represent the deceased’s estate.

Who Can Receive Compensation For A Wrongful Death In West Virginia?

Although an estate administrator is the only person with the legal authority to file a wrongful death lawsuit in West Virginia, the family of an individual who has died in a truck accident has the right to recover financial compensation from a lawsuit. Family members who are eligible to receive compensation from a wrongful death lawsuit in West Virginia include:

  • The spouse of the deceased victim
  • The victim’s children, stepchildren, and adopted children
  • Their parents and siblings
  • Any family members who were financially dependent on their deceased loved one when the truck accident happened

If the accident victim had no spouse, children, parents, siblings, or dependent family, other individuals may be able entitled to compensation:

  • Named beneficiaries might receive the funds if the deceased person had a will
  • If the individual did not have a will, the individual’s heirs under West Virginia’s inheritance laws might receive any wrongful death damages awarded as a result of a lawsuit

What Kind Of Compensation Can Be Recovered In A Truck Accident Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

In West Virginia, monetary compensation, or damages, are awarded at the end of a successful lawsuit process, either as a result of a settlement or a jury order. Family members of those killed in truck accidents can recover compensation for emotional harm and the financial costs associated with the death of their loved ones. Emotional damages include:

  • Emotional distress, sorrow, and mental anguish
  • Loss of companionship, comfort, society, kindly offices, advice, and comfort

Financial damages can cover tangible losses, including:

  • Loss of the deceased’s income and benefits
  • Loss of the deceased’s services, care, homemaking, and help
  • Medical expenses resulting from the accident
  • End-of-life expenses
  • Funeral costs

What Is The Time Limit For A West Virginia Truck Accident Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

West Virginia law imposes a two-year statute of limitations on wrongful death lawsuits, including those filed as a result of fatal truck accidents. A statute of limitations is the time period wherein representatives may file wrongful death lawsuits. Failure to file wrongful death lawsuits within the statute of limitations can bar the estate of a deceased injury victim from seeking recovery for losses.

The statute of limitations starts upon the date of death. If a victim passed away days after an accident, the statute of limitations starts to run on the date of death, not the accident date.

Can A Wrongful Death Lawsuit Proceed If The Deceased Person Contributed To The Cause(s) Of Their Accident?

In some cases, a fatal accident victim contributed to the circumstances that led to their harm. Under West Virginia law, a personal representative can file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of a deceased person’s estate, even if the deceased person contributed to the cause(s) of their harm. However, if your loved one was primarily at fault for their accident, you might not be able to pursue a lawsuit successfully. In West Virginia, wrongful death lawsuits can only result in a compensation award if someone other than the accident victim was primarily at fault for the fatal consequences of their crash.

Charleston, West Virginia Truck Accident Wrongful Death Lawyers

If a truck accident has taken the life of a loved one, your family has likely suffered truly significant emotional and financial hardships as a result. If you’re the personal representative of your loved one’s estate, you might be able to recover compensation from those at fault under West Virginia law.

At Salango Law, we understand the devastating effects that Charleston, West Virginia trucking accidents have on families, and we advocate aggressively on their behalf as a result. To learn more about filing a wrongful death lawsuit, please reach out to Salango Law at 304-342-0512 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.