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West Virginia has complex wrongful death laws

In most American regions, an immediate family member of a wrongful death victim has the right to file a claim. For example, the spouse or adult child is typically the party that seeks legal action. However, the law is considerably different in West Virginia.

Here, the only person with the standing to pursue a claim is the personal representative of the victim’s estate. In most scenarios, this person would be the executor on behalf of the estate left behind by the victim.

What if there is no representative?

Not everyone has an estate plan or a personal representative, especially younger people. Fortunately, bereaved family members still have options to pursue a claim.

A member of the family (spouse, parent, adult child, etc.) can apply to become the executor of the deceased’s estate and subsequently file a wrongful death claim. Although this is an extra step not imposed in most states, it still allows you to bring the responsible parties to justice.

The representative has only two years to file the claim on behalf of the bereaved family. Courts typically reduce the compensation awarded in a successful wrongful death claim if the deceased contributed to the incident that caused their death.

For example, say a drunk driver collides with your loved one, and the accident results in their death. Now, say that your family member was speeding or perhaps texting behind the wheel when the crash occurred. In these situations, a court will likely reduce the award based on your loved one’s percentage of the fault.

Consider learning more about these complicated laws if you have lost a loved one wrongfully in the Charleston, West Virginia region.

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