When a loved one dies due to old age or a prolonged illness, their survivors will certainly grieve, but may also understand that death is a part of life and their loved one’s passing was nobody’s fault. However, if a person in West Virginia or Kentucky dies due to another person’s negligent act or misconduct, their loved ones’ grief will be amplified, especially considering that such deaths could have been avoided had the responsible party not behaved negligently. When this happens, the victim’s survivors may want to pursue a personal injury claim known as a “wrongful death” suit.

A wrongful death claim is a civil lawsuit. Unlike criminal trials where guilt must be proven “beyond a reasonable doubt,” in a wrongful death claim the defendant’s fault only needs to be proven “by a preponderance of the evidence.” Thus, even a person who was found “not guilty” in a criminal trial still could be held responsible in a wrongful death suit based on the same death.

To succeed in a wrongful death claim, certain elements must be proven. First, there must be the death of a human being. Second, that death must have been caused by another person either intentionally or negligently. The victim’s survivors must have suffered financial damages due to their loved one’s death. Finally, in general wrongful death claims are brought be a personal representative of the decedent’s estate.

This basic overview of wrongful death claims may be useful to those who have lost a loved one due to the actions of another. However, this post does not provide the legal advice necessary to bring a wrongful death claim. Those who need more information on this topic and how it applies to them should seek the professional guidance they need to determine how to proceed.