Virginia Family Law Lawyers
Damages in Virginia Wrongful Death Actions
Losing a family member or other loved one is devastating. When we lose a loved one, everything changes for us. We may be overwhelmed by grief and have our sorrows compounded by financial problems. These problems can arise because of the lost income or financial support we had previously received from our family member. Things get worse because of the new and unexpected expenses we have to meet for funerals and similar arrangements.
If your loved one’s death resulted from a corporation’s or another person’s negligence, your family may be able to recover compensation in what is called a “wrongful death action.” Virginia law permits a number of different types of “damages,” or categories of compensation, in a wrongful death action.
According to Virginia law, there are five separate categories of damages that a beneficiary can recover in a wrongful death action. Those categories are the following:
- Any sorrow, mental anguish, or loss of solace suffered by any beneficiaries due to the loss. Virginia law permits a recovery of solace to include “society, companionship, comfort, guidance, kindly offices, and advice” of the deceased.[i]
- Any reasonably expected lost income the beneficiaries will lose due to the deceased’s passing;
- Any reasonably expected loss of services, protection, care and assistance which the deceased provided to the beneficiaries;
- Any treatment for the care, treatment, and hospitalization of the deceased caused by the injury that resulted in his or her death; and
- Reasonable funeral expenses.
Of these types of damages, it is important to recognize that the first and third categories of damages are for “noneconomic damages.” Noneconomic damages are for things that are not easily determined by a dollar amount because they are not things that can be bought or sold. But these are the most important things in life, such as relationships, love, mentorship, friendship, guidance, help, and support.
Losing these noneconomic benefits are the worst losses that occur because of the death of a loved one. Despite that, many attorneys tend to discount these losses. They agree with insurance companies that these losses should not receive much compensation because they are not able to be calculated with any precision. Or, they will buy into the insurance company’s argument that these losses are not worthy of much money because they won’t bring back the lost family member.
These arguments are garbage and they are destructive. Every person’s life has enormous value, not because of what they produce or what type of job they have. Instead, these lives have limitless value because of the relationships they create, and love they bring, and the help they provide to others in this difficult world. It is vital that we recognize the value of these noneconomic things and fight to get the true worth of what has been lost.
If you have lost a loved one due to a corporation’s or another person’s fault or negligence, you must know your rights to seek justice and compensation. Contact experienced Virginia wrongful death attorney Robert E. Byrne, Jr. at (434) 817-3100 or by email at [email protected] for a free consultation and to obtain the benefits for your family that the law requires. There is no fee unless we obtain a recovery for you.
[i] Virginia Civil Jury Instruction 9.100, Damages: Death by Wrongful Act.