Tragically, a person could lose his or her life due to someone’s negligent behavior. Families may feel a catastrophic loss when a drunk driver or incompetent physician causes the death, leading survivors to file a wrongful death suit. Such litigation remains subject to the laws of West Virginia, and statutes define who has standing in a wrongful death suit.
Bringing a wrongful death suit forward
In many states, spouses and children may file a lawsuit, and so might parents. Such close relatives would be the ones who suffer the greatest harm when the loved one dies, which is why states afford them standing. Such is not the case in West Virginia, as only the deceased’s personal representative may initiate legal action.
The executor of the estate would typically serve as the personal representative. A testator normally names an executor in a will, but some people pass away without a will. So, there will be legal questions about who becomes the official representative upon the person’s passing.
Further legal concerns about wrongful death lawsuits
Anyone intending to bring forth a wrongful death lawsuit in West Virginia must understand the statute of limitations applies. Potential plaintiffs have only two years to file the lawsuit. Once that two-year mark passes, the plaintiffs may lose their ability to sue.
Although the personal representative files a lawsuit, various beneficiaries may receive compensation in a judgment or settlement. Close relatives mentioned earlier, such as spouses, children, and parents, would be among them. So might a relative who was financially dependent on the deceased’s support.
State law will detail who may receive compensation for specific losses. Losses may range from a decline in household income to a loss of consortium, among others. Punitive damages might be possible, depending on the circumstances.