If there are multiple beneficiaries in a wrongful death case, will there be multiple lawsuits or just one on behalf of all beneficiaries?

While the law limits a single personal representative to filing a wrongful death lawsuit, there can be multiple beneficiaries who recover compensation from the lawsuit. The personal representative files the lawsuit on behalf of all the beneficiaries.

A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil claim filed against a person who causes the death of another person because of negligence or intentional act. The deceased’s personal representative will file a wrongful death claim, not on behalf of the deceased, but on behalf of the beneficiaries. The personal representative may also file a survival action on behalf of the deceased’s estate.

According to West Virginia Code Section 55-7-6(b), below are individuals who may recover damages in a wrongful death lawsuit

  • Surviving spouse
  • Children
  • Adopted children
  • Stepchildren
  • Brothers and sisters
  • Parents
  • Any persons who were financially dependent upon the victim at the time of death

If you’re unsure whether a certain beneficiary is entitled to damages in your claim, consult an attorney to review the specifics of the case.

What types of damages are available in a wrongful death lawsuit?

Below are some of the damages recoverable in a wrongful death lawsuit, per West Virginia Code Section 55-7-6(c).

  • Sorrow
  • Mental Anguish
  • Reasonably expected loss of income, services, protection, comfort, guidance, kindly offices, and advice
  • Expenses for care, treatment, and hospitalization
  • Funeral expenses

The judge or jury may decide in which proportions to distribute the damages to the beneficiaries, which is important in the event there are multiple beneficiaries in the claim.

Also keep in mind that the deceased’s personal representative must file a wrongful death suit for damages within two years of the time of death.

Do I need an attorney?

You do not have to hire an attorney for your wrongful death claim, but an attorney is a valuable asset. An attorney can help you understand the ins and outs of a wrongful death lawsuit, who can file a lawsuit, and who may recover damages, such as in the event of multiple beneficiaries. Remember, you only have two years to file a claim, so it’s important that you take action as soon as possible.

To begin, call the attorneys at the Miley Legal Group for answers to your questions today at 304-931-4088. You can also fill out our contact form to set up your free consultation.

Tim Miley
Injury Lawyer, Author, & Owner of The Miley Legal Group