Wrongful Death: Civil Claims, Exceptions, and Damages
A wrongful death occurs whenever someone is killed due to the negligence or otherwise irresponsible actions of another person. In addition to applying to situations where someone died through misconduct, a wrongful death suit can also apply to murder. Typically, these types of cases follow a criminal case, and are somewhat unique in that they have a lower burden of proof than criminal cases. This means that someone can hypothetically be found innocent in the criminal case, only to then be later found guilty in the civil case. If you think you might have a case of this nature, then you should seriously consider contacting a West Virginia personal injury attorney to represent you and the deceased person’s estate.
It’s important to note that only a representative of the deceased person’s estate, typically a family member, can file a civil death case against the defendant. In order for the suit to be successful, there are a few factors that need to be taken into consideration. The plaintiff must prove that the death of a person was caused as a result of another person’s negligence or intentional misconduct, and that the deceased’s relatives are now suffering monetarily as a result of the death.
In a civil death case, the court must also try to determine the exact amount that the deceased’s life was worth to the surviving members of this estate. Referred to as “pecuniary injuries,” this number is determined through all of the expenses associated with the person’s death, including funeral and medical costs. In addition, the court will also look at any lost services that the person offered before they died, and any additional circumstances that might have otherwise affected their value. Any money awarded as a result of a civil death case is then given additional interest, based on the date of the person’s death.
Since a civil death case can get incredibly complicated, based not only on proving the negligence of the defendant, but also in determining the pecuniary injuries of the deceased, it is highly recommended that you only proceed with the best West Virginia personal injury attorney you can find.
To arrange a meeting to discuss your rights and options, contact our office online or call us at 800-766-9441.