The questions on this page were answered by our team of Virginia Beach & Norfolk personal injury attorneys. The questions are categorized by practice area such as car accidents, medical malpractice, wrongful death, etc. If you have specific questions about your situation, contact our firm to set up a free consultation with an actual attorney.
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What damages can be recovered in a wrongful death claim?
The specific damages that can be recovered depending upon the circumstances of the victim’s death, however, in general, family can pursue compensation for funeral expenses, loss of the victim’s income, and noneconomic losses such as loss of the victim’s companionship, care, guidance, assistance, affection, and protection.
The victim’s family may also file a survival action in order to recover certain economic losses the victim’s estate suffered, including medical expenses, loss of income, and any other losses the victim may have been able to recover in a personal injury lawsuit had they recovered.
Who can file a wrongful death claim?
Under Virginia law, survivors must file a wrongful death claim within two years of the victim’s death. Legally, survivors are considered the following (in order of who has the legal claim):
- The surviving spouse and children of the victim
- The surviving parents of the victim. If the parents are not alive, then the siblings of the victim may file.
- Any relative who was financially dependent on the victim
- Any relative who is entitled to inherit from the victim’s estate based on the intestacy laws of Virginia.
What is a wrongful death claim?
Virginia law allows family members to pursue compensation if their loved one’s death was the result of the negligent or reckless actions of another party or parties. Examples of incidents that could justify a wrongful death claim include:
- Defective or dangerous product
- Fatal assault, battery, or because of other crime
- Fatal vehicle accident cause by a driver who exhibited careless, drunk, or reckless behavior.
- Medical malpractice
- Nursing home abuse or negligence
- Slip and fall or other premises liability accident on private property
- Work-related death
What are some of the common problems with backyard pools that can cause injury?Many pool owners lack proper fencing or a pool cover. If the pool is not in use and a child falls in unsupervised, it is possible to file a personal injury lawsuit.
Do beneficiaries need to be named in a wrongful death lawsuit?
Only the plaintiff and the person who died must be named in a wrongful death insurance claim or civil lawsuit.
Technically, the person named as the plaintiff is acting in place of the deceased individual and on behalf of the estate of the man, woman or child who died. How an insurance company wrongful death settlement or jury award is divided up is determined by section 8.01-53 of the Virginia Code.
Can someone other than a parent file a wrongful death claim on behalf of a child?
A mother, father or legal guardian usually acts on behalf of a deceased child when it comes to handling a wrongful death insurance claim or civil lawsuit. This situation is not absolute, however.
By statute,, a family or the child’s estate can designate a legal executor for the purposes of filing a lawsuit. Consulting with a Virginia wrongful death attorney before taking the option of having someone other than a parent or guardian represent the child will ensure that legal challenges to the arrangement do not block recovery of compensation and damages from the person or organization that caused the death.
How do I know if I have a wrongful death case in Virginia?
Negligence, recklessness or intent on the part of the person or organization that is responsible for a person’s death justifies filing a wrongful death insurance claim or civil lawsuit. You can take legal action for a wrongful death if you are authorized to act on behalf of the estate of the person who died.
As Virginia wrongful death attorneys, my colleagues and I concentrate on cases involving negligence, such as medical errors or car crashes, and from recklessness, such as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
A person authorized to act on behalf of a wrongful death victim’s estate can be a parent, brother, sister, other family member, executor or trustee.
What is the Virginia wrongful death statute of limitations?
The statute of limitations for wrongful death claims in Virginia is within two years of the death of the injured person. (Va. Code 8.01-244). A statute of limitations is the period during which one can bring a legal claim in a court of law. For claims involving wrongful death, or death at the hands of another due to misconduct or negligence, a civil lawsuit to recover damages must be brought within 2 years after the death occurs. If claims are not brought within their statute of limitations period they will be time barred by the court. If a loved one has passed and you believe a wrongful death claim is appropriate it is important to contact a law firm like this one that has successfully tried wrongful death cases in the past as soon as possible.
What are the types of harms and damages that can be recovered in a Virginia wrongful death case against a negligent party or company?
Virginia, like most states allows recovery for the survivors’ sorrow, mental anguish, loss of solace, comfort, the advice of the decedent, reasonably expected loss of income that the decedent would supply beneficiaries. In addition, Virginia allows for reasonably expected loss of services, protection, care and assistance as well as recovery of expense for the care, treatment or hospitalization of the deceased loved one resulting from the injury that caused death. Last, funeral expenses are recoverable.
How are Virginia wrongful death claims handled in court?
In Virginia, there are some clear procedures set forth in our state’s laws concerning civil claims for damage related to the death of a person due to someone else’s negligence. These cases are known as wrongful death cases and can be confusing for those unfamiliar with their mechanics. To learn more about the details of filing a Virginia wrongful death claim, keep reading.
In Virginia, who are the beneficiaries in a wrongful death case?
§ 8.01-53. Class and beneficiaries
A. The damages awarded pursuant to § 8.01-52 shall be distributed as specified under § 8.01-54 to (i) the surviving spouse, children of the deceased and children of any deceased child of the deceased or (ii) if there be none such, then to the parents, brothers and sisters of the deceased, and to any other relative who is primarily dependent on the decedent for support or services and is also a member of the same household as the decedent or (iii) if the decedent has left both surviving spouse and parent or parents, but no child or grandchild, the award shall be distributed to the surviving spouse and such parent or parents or (iv) if there are survivors under clause (i) or clause (iii), the award shall be distributed to those beneficiaries and to any other relative who is primarily dependent on the decedent for support or services and is also a member of the same household as the decedent or (v) if no survivors exist under clause (i), (ii), (iii), or (iv), the award shall be distributed in the course of descents as provided for in § 64.2-200. Provided, however, no parent whose parental rights and responsibilities have been terminated by a court of competent jurisdiction or pursuant to a permanent entrustment agreement with a child welfare agency shall be eligible as a beneficiary under this section. For purposes of this section, a relative is any person related to the decedent by blood, marriage, or adoption and also includes a stepchild of the decedent.
Virginia’s wrongful death statute makes clear that there are several categories of beneficiaries who can recover damages for a wrongful death. These include surviving spouses, children, grandchildren, parents, siblings and finally, other, more distantly related relatives. The law says that the jury can choose to apportion the damages to the beneficiaries, or if it does not, then the Court must do so when it enters a final judgment.
What wrongful death case damages can be recovered?
§ 8.01-52. Amount of damages.
The jury or the court, as the case may be, in any such action under § 8.01-50 may award such damages as to it may seem fair and just. The verdict or judgment of the court trying the case without a jury shall include, but may not be limited to, damages for the following:
1. Sorrow, mental anguish, and solace which may include society, companionship, comfort, guidance, kindly offices and advice of the decedent;
2. Compensation for reasonably expected loss of (i) income of the decedent and (ii) services, protection, care and assistance provided by the decedent;
3. Expenses for the care, treatment and hospitalization of the decedent incident to the injury resulting in death;
4. Reasonable funeral expenses; and
5. Punitive damages may be recovered for willful or wanton conduct, or such recklessness as evinces a conscious disregard for the safety of others.
The Virginia statute governing wrongful death lawsuits establishes a method for how damages are calculated. According to the law, the judge or jury can award damages that it decides are fair and just. Examples of these damages include money for mental anguish, loss of companionship, loss of income, medical expenses, funeral expenses and, in some cases, even punitive damages meant to send an especially strong message to the responsible party.
What is the Virginia statute of limitations for wrongful death actions?
In Section 8.01-244(B) of Virginia Code it says that the statute of limitations for wrongful death actions is two years from the date of the person’s death. This means that if you fail to file your case within this time period, the responsible party will unfortunately be able to avoid financial liability for their actions.
This normal two-year rule does not apply in cases where the party is a minor. In Virginia, the statute of limitations is “tolled,” meaning it stops running, until the person turns 18 at which point the clock begins ticking. That means for minors, the statute of limitations does not actually expire until he or she turns 20.
These rules are again shifted in medical malpractice cases, which have their own unique time limits. The law says that for adults, any legal action against a health care provider must be filed within two years of the date that the act giving rise to the injury occurred. However, any suit based on the discovery of a foreign object must be filed within one year from the date that object was or should have been discovered, and cannot be filed in any case more than 10 years from the date the foreign object was inserted. For minors under eight-years-old, the law says the statute of limitations expires on their 10th birthday. For those minors eight-years-old and older, they have two years from the date of the act that gave rise to the injury to file suit.
For more information about wrongful death claims in Virginia, consider reading through the following articles written by my firm’s experienced wrongful death attorneys:
- How long do I have to file a lawsuit for a wrongful death claim against the driver who caused the wreck?
- What damages may I claim in a wrongful death case?
- My wife was severely injured in a Virginia (VA) car wreck caused by a drunk driver, and she died from injury-related complications more than a year after the accident occurred. Can I still bring a wrongful death suit against the drunk driver?