Wrongful Death Claim Complications Involving Family Members

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

Filing a wrongful death claim? Complications and challenges from family members may make the process more difficult than it already is. Talk with a personal injury attorney in Clarksburg at The Miley Legal Group for help with your case.

Wrongful Death Laws and Rights of Beneficiaries

One of the challenges that may come from family members is: who can file a claim? A wrongful death claim can only be filed by a representative who is generally the executor of the deceased’s estate. The filing is done on behalf of surviving family members but can sometimes include those who are not related.

The representative who files the claim isn’t necessarily the one who will receive the settlement. According to the West Virginia law, wrongful death damages are generally distributed to surviving spouse and children (including adopted children). But wrongful death claim complications can arise when there are others who may have also been financially dependent at the time of the deceased individual’s death.

The following are some of the parties that may be considered beneficiaries in a wrongful death claim: 

  • spouse;
  • children;
  • parents;
  • siblings;
  • grandparents; and
  • others who were financially dependent on the deceased at the time of death.

Deciding who should receive a portion of the settlement can be a challenge. The court or jury may award damages as it sees fair and just, and if the aforementioned survivors are not present, then the award may be distributed according to the individual’s will. Be sure to go over what you should expect with your personal injury attorney in Clarksburg before proceeding.

Types of Wrongful Death Damages That May Be Available

In West Virginia, damages are awarded according to what a court or jury considers fair and just. Determining how much should be awarded for things such as emotional distress or funeral costs may also lead to complications.

The following are some of the types of wrongful death damages that may be awarded: 

  • mental anguish;
  • expected loss of earnings and services of the deceased;
  • reasonable funeral costs; and
  • expenses for medical treatment and hospitalization for injury that resulted in death.

Each personal injury case will require adequate proof in order to be awarded damages. For instance, did your loved one sustain fatal injuries from a car crash? Is there evidence to suggest it was caused by an impaired driver? Did you know that according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2010, of the 315 traffic fatalities in West Virginia, 88 involved drivers with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher?

You would need to have proof that shows the other driver was under the influence. An accident report or results from field sobriety tests may be helpful in establishing that the other driver was impaired at the time of the accident.

In this type of wrongful death claim, complications may be encountered if you can’t show the other driver was negligent. Or there may be challenges in a case like this if your loved one was found to also be at fault to some degree.

In cases of medical malpractice, complications may include establishing that a reasonable standard of care was not properly adhered to during medical care. An expert witness may be necessary to testify in the case.

Personal Injury Attorney at The Miley Legal Group in Clarksburg

These types of cases are oftentimes challenging. Emotions can run high amongst family members, too. Consult with a personal injury attorney in Clarksburg at The Miley Legal Group. We can help you sort through the wrongful death claim complications you are facing (304) 931-4088.