It can take some time for members of a family to adjust to their new reality when a loved one dies unexpectedly. Not only will there be social and emotional consequences for each member of the family to handle, but there will also be practical and financial consequences stemming from someone’s untimely passing.
One of the ways families can mitigate those consequences is by filing a wrongful death lawsuit. Such claims can hold businesses or individuals responsible when they cause car crashes, release unsafe products or otherwise directly contribute to the cause of someone’s death due to negligence, recklessness or intentional conduct.
Families need to act promptly after receiving tragic news
It is a common first reaction after a family tragedy to take time to adjust to the new situation. Grief can take months for people to process, and they may tell themselves that they will handle their practical concerns after making it through the first stages of the grieving process.
What people fail to realize is that grief does not go away after a few months or even a couple of years. It simply becomes part of someone’s daily lived experience. If someone were to try to wait until their grief passed to pursue a wrongful death claim, they would likely lose the right to do so, as the West Virginia statute of limitations only gives people two years after the date of an individual’s death to initiate a wrongful death claim.
Developing a claim often takes months
Before an attorney will file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of a client, they will first need to put together evidence showing that the defendant played a role in the tragedy and that there were Financial consequences for surviving family members. The more unusual the situation, the longer it may potentially take a lawyer to put together the necessary documentation to present the courts with a claim.
In some cases, such as when the defendant in a wrongful death case is a business, there could be a settlement opportunity before there is ever a hearing in civil court. Many wrongful death cases will require a hearing in civil court, which might mean waiting many months, possibly the better part of a year, for a hearing in civil court.
Although there are no guarantees regarding how quickly a case may go through the courts, families cannot forget the very firm statute of limitations that applies to such claims. Grieving dependents often need to start exploring their legal options after a loved one’s death before they have had time to come to terms with the situation fully.
Knowing what to expect when considering a wrongful death claim in West Virginia can help families hoping to secure justice from the civil courts with the assistance of a legal professional.