Wrongful Death:

West Virginia

 §55-7-5. Action for death by wrongful act.

Whenever the death of a person shall be caused by wrongful act, neglect, or default, and the act, neglect or default is such as would (if death had not ensued) have entitled the party injured to maintain an action to recover damages in respect thereof, then, and in every such case, the person who, or the corporation which, would have been liable if death had not ensued, shall be liable to an action for damages, notwithstanding the death of the person injured, and although the death shall have been caused under such circumstances as amount in law to murder in the first or second degree, or manslaughter. No action, however, shall be maintained by the personal representative of one who, not an infant, after injury, has compromised for such injury and accepted satisfaction therefor previous to his death. Any right of action which may hereafter accrue by reason of such injury done to the person of another shall survive the death of the wrongdoer, and may be enforced against the executor or administrator, either by reviving against such personal representative a suit which may have been brought against the wrongdoer himself in his lifetime, or by bringing an original suit against his personal representative after his death, whether or not the death of the wrongdoer occurred before or after the death of the injured party.


§55-7-6. By whom action for wrongful death to be brought; amount and distribution of damages; period of limitation.

(a) Every such action shall be brought by and in the name of the personal representative of such deceased person who has been duly appointed in this state, or in any other state, territory or district of the United States, or in any foreign country, and the amount recovered in every such action shall be recovered by said personal representative and be distributed in accordance herewith. If the personal representative was duly appointed in another state, territory or district of the United States, or in any foreign country, such personal representative shall, at the time of filing of the complaint, post bond with a corporate surety thereon authorized to do business in this state, in the sum of one hundred dollars, conditioned that such personal representative shall pay all costs adjudged against him or her and that he or she shall comply with the provisions of this section. The circuit court may increase or decrease the amount of said bond, for good cause.

(b) In every such action for wrongful death, the jury, or in a case tried without a jury, the court, may award such damages as to it may seem fair and just, and, may direct in what proportions the damages shall be distributed to the surviving spouse and children, including adopted children and stepchildren, brothers, sisters, parents and any persons who were financially dependent upon the decedent at the time of his or her death or would otherwise be equitably entitled to share in such distribution after making provision for those expenditures, if any, specified in subdivision (2), subsection (c) of this section. 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 set forth in chapter forty-two of this code. If the jury renders only a general verdict on damages and does not provide for the distribution thereof, the court shall distribute the damages in accordance with the provisions of this subsection.

(c) (1) The 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.

(2) In its verdict the jury shall set forth separately the amount of damages, if any, awarded by it for reasonable funeral, hospital, medical and said other expenses incurred as a result of the wrongful act, neglect or default of the defendant or defendants which resulted in death, and any such amount recovered for such expenses shall be so expended by the personal representative.

(d) 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. The provisions of this section shall not apply to actions brought for the death of any person occurring prior to the first day of July, one thousand nine hundred eighty-eight.


§55-7-7. Compromise of claim for death by wrongful act.

The personal representative of the deceased may compromise any claim to damages arising under section five of this article before or after action brought. What is received by the personal representative under the compromise shall be treated as if recovered by him in an action under the section last mentioned. When the judge acts in vacation, he shall return all the papers in the case, and orders made therein, to the clerk's office of such court. The clerk shall file the papers in his office as soon as received, and forthwith enter the order in the order book on the law side of the court. Such orders, and all the proceedings in vacation, shall have the same force and effect as if made or had in term. Upon approval of the compromise, the court shall apportion and distribute such damages, or the compromise agreed upon, after making provisions for those expenditures, if any, specified in subdivision (2), subsection (c), section six of this article, in the same manner as in the cases tried without a jury.


§55-7-25. Personal injury and wrongful death actions; complaint; specific amount of damages not to be stated.

In any action to recover damages for personal injury or wrongful death, no specific dollar amount or figure relating to damages being sought may be included in the complaint. However, the complaint may include a statement reciting that the amount in controversy satisfies the minimum jurisdictional amount established for filing the action. Further, and pursuant to the West Virginia Rules of Civil Procedure pertaining to discovery, any party defendant may at any time request a written statement setting forth the nature and amount of damages sought. The request shall be served upon the plaintiff who shall serve a responsive statement as to the nature and amount of damages sought within thirty days thereafter. If no response is served within thirty days after receipt of service by the plaintiff, the party defendant requesting the statement may petition the court in which the action is pending to order the plaintiff to serve a responsive statement upon the requesting party defendant. This section applies only to complaints filed on or after the first day of July, two thousand eight.