This blog focuses on the law in Pennsylvania and West Virginia (and other practical issues that arise) when a family member or friend is unfortunately lost due to an accidental death.
Published: January 8, 2014
By: E. Richard Ogrodowski
This post focuses on the very basics of a wrongful death action in West Virginia. W.Va. Code § 55-7-5 et seq.
What is a wrongful death action in West Virginia? West Virginia permits the recovery of damages due to the death of a person from a wrongful act, neglect, or default. W.Va. Code § 55-7-5. If damages are recovered, they “shall be distributed to the surviving spouse and children, including adopted children and stepchildren, brothers, sisters, parents and any persons who where financially dependent upon the decedent at the time of his or her death or would otherwise be equitably entitled to share in such distribution ….” W.Va. Code § 55-7-6(b). However, “if there are no such survivors, then the damages shall be distributed in accordance with the decedent’s will or, if there is no will, in accordance with the laws of descent and distribution” as contained in the West Virginia Code. W.Va. Code § 55-7-6(b).
Who can bring a wrongful death action in West Virginia? The wrongful death action “shall be brought by and in the name of the personal representative of such deceased person….” W.Va. Code § 55-7-6(a).
What are the recoverable damages in a wrongful death action in West Virginia? A jury, or if there is no jury, the court, may award a broad array of damages. The authority for this is in W.Va. Code § 55-7-6(b): “In every such action for wrongful death, the jury, or in a case tried without a jury, the court, may award damages as to it may seem fair and just, and, may direct in what proportions the damages shall be distributed ….” Further, the wrongful death statute specifies that “[t]he verdict of the jury shall include, but may not be limited to, damages for the following: (A) Sorrow, mental anguish, and solace which may include society, companionship, comfort, guidance, kindly offices and advice of the decedent; (B) compensation for reasonably expected loss of (i) income of the decedent, and (ii) services, protection, care and assistance provided by the decedent; (C) expenses for the care, treatment and hospitalization of the decedent incident to the injury resulting in death; and (D) reasonable funeral expenses.” W.Va. Code § 55-7-6(c)(1).
What is the statute of limitations for a wrongful death action in West Virginia? “Every such action shall be commenced within two years after the death of such deceased person, subject to the provisions of section eighteen, article two, chapter fifty-five.” W.Va. Code § 55-7-6(d).
Published: August 2, 2013
By: E. Richard Ogrodowski
Welcome to the PA & WV Accidental Death Lawyer blog. This blog focuses on the law in Pennsylvania and West Virginia (and other practical issues that arise) when a family member or friend is unfortunately lost due to an accidental death. My name is Rich Ogrodowski. My law partner, Fred Goldsmith, and I are the co-founders of Goldsmith & Ogrodowski, LLC (http://www.golawllc.com), a law firm based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which is dedicated to representing individuals and workers, or their families, who have been seriously injured or killed due to an accident. The accidents sometimes arise from: a defective product, a car accident, a motorcycle accident, a workplace accident, or a dangerous condition on someone’s land. We also focus on admiralty and maritime law. Our practice is primarily in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio; however, I am licensed to only practice in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
As a father and husband, I know the preciousness of life. As the son and grandson of former coal miners in Washington County, Pennsylvania, I know the danger encountered everyday when a loved one leaves the house. When I first started practicing law, I mainly defended companies in personal injury lawsuits. But, knowing my roots and that my heart was with helping people, my practice now focuses on representing individuals when they have been hurt or they have lost a loved one.
When an unfortunate accident has occurred and the life of a loved one has been untimely taken away, family members and friends are often left searching for information. I created this blog to be informative and provide general information to those family members and friends. This blog will be different than nearly all of the other accidental / wrongful death blogs you will find on the web. The other accidental / wrongful death blogs are written by outside vendors the law firm hires, which is not the case here. Either my partner, Fred Goldsmith, a guest blogger of Goldsmith & Ogrodowski, LLC, or myself, will write the posts for this blog. The goal is to provide an informative accidental / wrongful death blog that has a personal touch while covering cases, statutes, and rules of civil procedure. The blog will also cover publicly available news that might be of interest to readers.