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What is the financial value of a wrongful death case?

When a person dies in an accident, his or her personal representative, typically a close family member, can file a lawsuit on behalf of the deceased victim. This kind of legal action, known as a wrongful death case, is designed to compensate the estate of the deceased victim when the fatal accident was caused by someone else's negligence.

Surviving family members of a fatal accident victim may wonder what the financial value is of a wrongful death case. In other words, how much is a wrongful death case worth? Like many other complicated legal questions, the value of a wrongful death claim depends on many different circumstances that are specific to the individual case at issue.

The most obvious type of available damages in a wrongful death case is for the expenses that are immediately related to the death. For example, the person's medical bills and funeral expenses are recoverable in a lawsuit, and are typically the most straightforward damages to calculate.

In addition to funeral and medical expenses, a wrongful death plaintiff can seek damages for the victim's lost wages or income. The value of this type of compensation is more difficult to calculate. In general, courts assess the plaintiff's earnings history and then estimate his or her expected future earnings based on age and health, as well as the type of work that the person did.

Another important factor that can change the value of damages in a wrongful death case is whether the deceased person had dependents. If the person had a spouse and children that relied on the person for financial support, that will increase the value of the claim.

People in West Virginia who are considering whether to pursue a legal claim arising from a fatal accident involving a close family member should understand how wrongful death cases unfold. This includes knowing the types of available damages, and how much those damages might be worth.

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