According to the West Virginia code, in a wrongful death action, "damages shall be distributed to the surviving spouse and children, including adopted children and stepchildren, brothers, sisters, parents and any persons who were financially dependent upon the decedent at the time of his or her death or would otherwise be equitably entitled to share in such distribution after making provision for those expenditures."
If you are one of the parties named above, you may be entitled to collect compensation as a beneficiary of a wrongful death claim.
There are some important points to remember when considering pursuing or becoming involved in a claim:
- you may not be the sole beneficiary;
- the court may stipulate who is eligible to be named a beneficiary;
- the court may stipulate how much of the wrongful death settlement goes to each beneficiary;
- preference may be given to beneficiaries with the most dependency on the deceased; and
- you have the right to legal representation as a beneficiary.
Families and individual beneficiaries have the right to consult with a wrongful death attorney to evaluate eligibility and rights to a portion of the settlement.
West Virginia juries do not always stipulate the exact terms of a wrongful death settlement aside from the amount of compensation. In these cases, it may fall on the court to distribute damages. The will of the deceased may impact how a wrongful death benefit is distributed if there are no survivors. If no will is present, descent and distribution laws may be used to determine how the will is distributed.
Let Us Defend Your Rights as a Beneficiary in a Wrongful Death Claim
The Clarksburg wrongful death attorneys at The Miley Legal Group provide free consultations. They can discuss filing a wrongful death claim with a family, and can discuss which individuals may be eligible to be beneficiaries in a wrongful death claim. To schedule an appointment, or to learn more about legal options, call 304-931-4088.