What are the Categories of Damages and Losses That Can be Recovered in a Virginia Civil Wrongful Death Case?

The sudden loss of a family member is more than simply tragic and overwhelming, it can also put a family in financial jeopardy: from hospital bills covering care administered prior to the death to funeral and burial expenses and lost income, the unexpected costs relating to a Virginia wrongful death often put families in dire economic straits.

What damages am I entitled to after the wrongful death of a loved one?

Facing the death of someone you love is never easy, and the financial and emotional tolls can be devastating under any circumstances. It is considerably more vexing, however, in cases where the death could have been avoided. Thankfully, in Virginia, the personal representative of the decedent’s estate is able to file a lawsuit on behalf of beneficiaries to pursue compensation and accountability from all liable parties.

There are precise and complex laws governing exactly who is entitled to recover in a Virginia wrongful death case. If your family member was killed in a preventable accident, the Virginia Beach personal injury law firm of Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp can help. Call us to schedule a free case review and learn about potential legal remedies for your loss with an experienced Virginia wrongful death lawyer.  

What is a Wrongful Death?  

In Virginia, wrongful deaths are defined as any death caused by the neglect, or wrongful act of another. The circumstances surrounding the death must prove that the injuries sustained would have made it possible for the deceased to file a personal injury claim had they lived. Since the victim is clearly unable to file a claim on their own behalf, the personal representative of their estate may file on behalf of the beneficiaries.

Who Is Eligible to File a Virginia Wrongful Death Claim?

In many states, a surviving family member of the deceased is eligible to file a claim of wrongful death. In Virginia, however, the claim may only be brought by the personal representative of the estate, which may be certain family members or other persons who are designated by a clerk of the circuit courts in Virginia. Any damages will be awarded to the statutory beneficiaries (dependents or family members entitled to recover from the estate). These include:

  • Group 1: The children, spouse, or, if a child is deceased, grandchildren of the victim
  • Group 2: If none of the family members listed above are surviving, then surviving siblings and parents, or any relation who shared a house with and was dependent on the deceased could be eligible to collect
  • Group 3: If no survivors from the previous two groups exist, then any surviving relatives entitled to inherit from the estate might be able to collect damages.

What Forms of Damages Are Awarded in A Virginia Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Virginia Code § 8.01-52 states that the damages in a wrongful matter can include financial compensation for:

  • Loss of the deceased’s income, including earnings and benefits they would have contributed to the household had they lived
  • Solace, mental anguish, and sorrow, which could include companionship, society, guidance, comfort, and advice  
  • Loss of protection, services, care, and assistance
  • Medical costs related to the deceased’s final illness or injury
  • Funeral and burial or cremation costs
  • In some cases where conduct was particularly egregious, willful, or wanton, punitive damages may also be awarded

Virginia Civil Statute of Limitations

In Virginia, the personal representative of the deceased’s estate only has two years from the “accrual” date of the cause of action to file a wrongful death claim against all liable parties. The “accrual” date is usually the date of death. Given this very narrow window of time, it is important to reach out to our experienced Virginia wrongful death attorneys as quickly as possible so that we can conduct a thorough investigation and ensure this deadline is met.   

Virginia wrongful death cases are extremely challenging since most defendants do everything in their power to circumvent liability. At Shapiro, Washburn, & Sharp, our Virginia wrongful death attorneys have more than 50 years of combined experience handling these types of cases and have recovered millions in compensation for our clients. We can review your case, explain your rights, and, in the large majority of cases, we successfully negotiate a settlement that provides you and your family with just compensation for your losses. Call us today at (833) 997-1774 or reach out through our online simple inquiry form to schedule your free consultation.

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