Lugar Injury Law will fight for you to receive full and fair compensation for your wrongful death claim.
Unfortunately, unexpected deaths occur on a daily basis. Medical events and unusual accidents occur, and no one is necessarily to blame. However, there may be circumstances under which your loved one?s death was preventable. It is under these circumstances that you should speak with a Roanoke personal injury attorney about suing for wrongful death.
If you can demonstrate another person?s careless, reckless, or intentional behavior caused your relative?s death, then you may obtain compensation for your financial losses and emotional injuries. Call Lugar Injury Law at (540) 384-0348, or reach out through our online form to schedule a free consultation and learn more.
Who May File a Wrongful Death Suit in Virginia?
Under Virginia?s wrongful death law, the personal representative of the deceased person?s estate must file the wrongful death claim on behalf of the survivors. It may be the person named in your loved one?s will, which may be a family member, romantic partner, close friend, or a professional.
What is Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death is a legal claim that arises when a person?s death is the result of another individual or business?s negligence, recklessness, intentional misconduct, or failure to act. Virginia law regarding wrongful death is found in the Code of Virginia ? 8.01-50. In order for the death to create a wrongful death claim, the person would have had the right to file a personal injury claim and pursue compensation had they lived.
However, a wrongful death action does not focus on the harm caused to the deceased person. It is based on the survivors? injuries, including their emotional distress and expenses. The compensation you may receive through a wrongful death claim is for your injuries.
If you are unsure of what constitutes wrongful death and whether you and your family have a valid legal claim, call Lugar Injury Law right away to speak with a wrongful death attorney. We will carefully review the circumstances that led to your loved one?s death. If it appears another party was at fault, we may recommend filing a wrongful death lawsuit and pursuing compensation.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death Claims
At Lugar Injury Law, we have handled wrongful death lawsuits arising from:
Wrongful Death Damages
Through a wrongful death claim, the personal representative can seek several types of damages on behalf of the surviving family members, including:
- Loss of the decedent?s income
- Loss of decedent?s services, protection, care, and assistance
- Sorrow, mental anguish, and solace, which can include the decedent?s society, companionship, guidance, comfort, and advice
- Expenses for decedent?s care, treatment, and hospitalization, which took place between the date of the accident and the decedent?s death
- Funeral and burial expenses
Additionally, if you can show that the at-fault party behaved in a willful or wanton way, or behaved in such a reckless manner it demonstrated a conscious disregard for other people?s safety, then you may also seek punitive damages. The other types of damages are known as compensatory damages, and they are meant to compensate you for harm you suffered. Punitive damages are intended to punish the wrongdoer for reckless or malicious conduct.
What is the Value of a Wrongful Death Claim?
No two wrongful death cases are the same, and the value of your claim depends on a number of factors, including:
Your loved one?s income
If you lost your spouse or parent, their typical income would influence the final amount of a wrongful death settlement or court ruling.
Your loved one?s age and health at the time of their death
If your loved one was young or middle-aged and in good health, these facts can be used to show you and your family would have had a greater amount of time with them and would have received a great deal more financial support.
The value of your relative?s services and assistance
If you lost a spouse or parent who significantly contributed to your household, then this may influence your compensation.
Expenses related to your loved one?s injuries and death
If your loved one survived for days, weeks, or months after the accident and accrued significant medical bills, then this may increase the wrongful death compensation.
The emotional distress you’ve suffered
If you or other family members can demonstrate the depth of your emotional distress and its practical consequences, such as diagnosed depression or other mental health issues, this can influence a settlement or court ruling.
The degree of the at-fault party?s misconduct
The more egregious the at-fault party?s conduct, the more likely you are to receive punitive damages.
Another practice matter that influences a possible wrongful death settlement is the at-fault party?s insurance policy and policy limit. Insurance policies all have a limit for how much the insurer will pay out for a particular claim. If your damages exceed this limit, then you may have to pursue additional compensation from the at-fault party directly.
To discuss the potential value of a wrongful death lawsuit settlement or court ruling, talk with a wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible.
Who May Recover Wrongful Death Compensation in Virginia?
Not all family members can recover compensation through a wrongful death claim. Virginia law limits financial recovery to certain statutory beneficiaries, including a surviving spouse, children, and any grandchildren. If your loved one did not leave behind a spouse, children, or grandchildren, then Virginia allows the parents and siblings to receive compensation, as well as any relative who was primarily dependent on the decedent. Additionally, if your loved one left behind a surviving spouse and parents, but no children or grandchildren, then the compensation will be distributed between the spouse and parents.
Who may receive compensation from a wrongful death settlement or lawsuit can be confusing. If you or your family is pursuing a wrongful death claim in Virginia, it is best to work with an experienced wrongful death attorney who will prepare you for who may receive compensation and how much.
Virginia?s Statute of Limitations on Wrongful Death Claims
When you have a valid wrongful death claim in Virginia, you have to file the lawsuit within two years of the date of your loved one?s death. All civil lawsuits have a deadline, known as the statute of limitations. If you file after two years, then your claim will be dismissed.
There are rare circumstances in which you can file after the two-year mark. It may be that the party at-fault for your loved one?s death took steps to hide their negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct.
If you are approaching or have passed two years from the date of your loved one?s death, it is important that you speak with an experienced wrongful death attorney about whether or not you can still file a claim.
Survival Actions in Virginia
Many people confuse survival actions with wrongful death claims. A wrongful death claim focuses on the surviving family member?s injuries, including their grief, emotional distress, and expenses related to their loved one?s death. The compensation obtained through a wrongful death claim is disbursed directly to the relevant surviving family members.
A survival action is different, in that it is the claim the deceased person would have if they were alive. Most types of legal claims die when the person who could bring the claim passes away. However, certain types of claims – like a personal injury lawsuit – can survive the plaintiff?s death. This surviving personal injury claim can be brought to recover the compensation your relative would have pursued had they lived.
The compensation is for the injuries the decedent suffered before their death. Through a survival action, the decedent?s estate recovers the compensation related to your loved one?s medical expenses, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and lost income. Then, the compensation is disbursed when the estate is distributed to the beneficiaries or heirs.
The personal representative of your loved one?s estate may be able to pursue both the wrongful death claim and a survival action. To learn more, contact a wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible.