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What kind of damages are available in a wrongful death case?

Fatal accidents can arise from a variety of different circumstances. Motor vehicle accidents, for example, are one common cause of accidental deaths. Likewise, workplace accidents and medical errors can also lead to fatal accidents. When a victim loses their life in one of these accidents, their family members may want to pursue legal action. This usually means filing a wrongful death lawsuit. The next logical question is what kinds of damages are available in a wrongful death lawsuit?

Under West Virginia law, a personal representative of the deceased, which is usually a close family member like a parent or spouse, can file a wrongful death claim against any parties that may have contributed to the untimely death of the victim. Various types of damages are available, depending on the circumstances of the particular case.

Typically, one of the most substantial types of damages in wrongful death cases can be attributed to the deceased person's loss of income. This is especially important in cases where the family members were dependent upon the victim's income. Thus, an experienced attorney for the victim's family will present evidence showing all of the income that the person would likely have earned throughout their lifetime, if they had survived.

Another available type of damages is loss of society and companionship, which deals with the void that family members will have without their deceased loved one. Again, this is particularly applicable for surviving spouses or children. For example, if a parent dies, children will miss out on spending time with the parent, learning valuable life lessons and getting emotional support from that parent. Similarly, a spouse will miss out on all of the love and care that the deceased spouse would have offered.

These are just a few of the damages that are applicable to many wrongful death lawsuits. Anyone who has lost a loved one due to someone else's negligence, should look into all of their available options for getting monetary compensation.

Source: West Virginia Legislature, "West Virginia Code Chapter 55," accessed on Dec. 11, 2014

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