Virginia law allows survivors of victims whose death was caused by the negligent or reckless actions of another party or parties to pursue for financial compensation. Some of the more common types of wrongful death lawsuit cases are:
- Death as a result of a careless driver
- Death as a result of a dangerous product
- Death as a result of a defective product
- Death as a result of a drunk driver
- Death as a result of a premises liability accident
- Death as a result of a work-related injury or illness
- Death as a result of medical malpractice
Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit?
In Virginia, the following survivors can file a wrongful death lawsuit:
- Spouses and children have first right
- Grandchildren if their parent is deceased
- Parents of the victim
- Siblings of the victim
- Any family member in the victim’s household who was dependent on him or her
- If none of the above apply, then the next of kin under Virginia’s intestacy laws
What type of losses can the victim’s family be compensated for?
Damages for wrongful death claims include funeral and burial expenses, loss of future income the victim would have provided for his or her family, loss of future benefits the victim would have provided for his or her family, loss of companionship, loss of love, loss of guidance, loss of service, and emotional anguish.
The family or representative from the victim’s estate can also bring a second type of action against the at-fault party, referred to as a survival action. This is separate from the wrongful death claim, as are the damages that are pursued. Basically, the damages awarded in this action are the same as the victim could have pursued had they survived the action, such as medical expenses and pain and suffering.
How do I file a wrongful death lawsuit?
The first thing you want to do is to contact a Virginia personal injury lawyer who is experienced in wrongful death claims. These types of actions can be complex, and you want to make sure the attorney handling your case is well versed in this area of law. It is particularly important that your attorney determines what the statute of limitations is for filing the claim because one that period has ended, so too has your chance for damages.
Your personal injury lawyer will determine who all responsible parties are and file the lawsuit. Once all parties have been notified, there is usually a time period of negotiations where your attorney and the at-fault party’s attorneys will try to come up with a fair and just settlement offer. Your wrongful death attorney will not make any decision without discussing them with you and your family first.
If no settlement can be reached, the lawsuit will proceed to trial. Both sides will present their case to a judge and jury. The jury will then decide if the party or parties named in the lawsuit are responsible for the victim’s death, and if they are, then how much the victim’s family should be awarded.
Speak with a Skilled and Compassionate Virginia Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
Families who have lost a loved one due to the negligent or reckless actions of another person should consider contacting a Virginia wrongful death attorney to discuss what legal recourse they may have for their pain and loss. Our legal team will work diligently to get your family the financial justice you deserve. Call our office today to schedule a free and confidential case evaluation.
Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp also offers a free wrongful death guide for families who have lost a loved one in an accident. The guide covers topics such as the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim, what types of damages can be pursued, and who can be appointed as a personal representative.