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

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 Type of Negligence Must Be Present in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Wrongful death may have occurred through either intentional negligence or unintentional negligence. For example, if a driver was distracted and that resulted in the death of a pedestrian, that would be considered unintentional negligence, yet the victim’s family could file a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver.

What Damages 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.