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Fatal accidents can lead to loss of companionship damages

When a person dies in a fatal accident, it usually comes as a horrible shock to that person's friends and loved ones. It is the kind of tragic news that nobody ever wants to get. Sadly, every year in West Virginia, some people have to accept that news. Whether from a motor vehicle accident, workplace mishap or medical mistake, fatal accidents do happen.

When these kinds of tragedies occur, the family members of the deceased will eventually have to try to get on with their own lives as best as possible. Part of that process may involve investigating the cause of their loved one's death and pursuing a legal claim against any negligent parties who may have been involved.

Through a wrongful death lawsuit, West Virginia law allows the family members of the deceased to recover damages on behalf of their loved one. In addition, the deceased person's spouse can pursue damages for loss of companionship. This type of claim, also known as loss of consortium, is designed to compensate a spouse for the lost love, affection and other services that they experience when losing their spouse to a fatal accident.

When trying to assign a dollar value to the loss of companionship, courts look to several factors, including the stability of the marriage, each spouse's life expectancy and the scope of the marital benefits that the surviving spouse has actually lost.

While nobody can ever put a price tag on the loss that a spouse feels when his or her spouse perishes in an accident, money is the only method through which the law can try to compensate the spouse. As with any other legal claim, people in the Charleston area who are thinking about filing a wrongful death lawsuit, and seeking loss of companionship damages, should understand the state laws that apply to these kinds of cases.

Source: FindLaw, "When Can You Sue for Loss of Consortium?," Jenny Tsay, March 28, 2014

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