A Virginia Beach Injury Lawyer's Advice About Wrongful Death Claims | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

Virginia (VA), like most states, has laws stating that a person or corporation whose negligence caused a person to die can, and should, be held responsible for the harms and losses their negligence produced. Sections 8.01-50 through §8.01-244 of the Code of Virginia set forth the rules for bringing wrongful death claims.

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Among the most important legal rules in VA is that a wrongful death lawsuit can only be filed by a personal representative of the estate of the person killed wrongfully. Also, more than one person or company can be named as defendants in a wrongful death lawsuit. So, for example, if your loved one was killed in a car wreck and there is the possibility that both the at-fault driver (let’s say they were speeding) and a mechanical issue (e.g., defective brakes) were the cause, then we could potentially file a wrongful death suit against both the driver and the manufacturer of the car. Strong evidence must be gathered and presented to have a solid case.
Under the law, the personal representative and the beneficiaries who will receive any money recovered in the case can be the decedent’s husband, wife and/or children. If no such relatives survive, the parents, brothers and/or sisters of the wrongful death victim can be recognized by a court as the persons who get the money from the lawsuit.

Wrongful death damage claims permitted under the Virginia wrongful death statutes include payments for medical treatments administered before the victim died, funeral bills and loss of future income for individuals who were financially dependent on the deceased person. 

Monetary awards can also be pursued for loss of companionship and loss of care, love, guidance and advice. In certain circumstances, there can even be damages for punishing a wrongdoer whose conduct in causing or contributing to the wrongful death was reckless. These are called punitive damages and are meant to send a message to the at-fault party, and the community at-large, that the reckless behavior which caused the death of your loved one is unacceptable and will be punished harshly.