When a loved one passes away, it is always a hard time for families left behind who have to struggle with the grieving process. It can be even more devastating when that death was caused by the negligence or recklessness of another party. In these cases, Virginia law allows survivors to pursue lawsuits against the party or parties responsible for their loved one’s death. A Charlottesville VA wrongful death attorney can help families get the financial compensation they deserve.
What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A wrongful death lawsuit is similar to a personal injury lawsuit in that it is based on the negligence of other parties. The difference is that a wrongful death lawsuit is filed by the family members or representative of the victim’s estate in order to get some kind of financial justice for the pain, suffering, and other burdens the victim’s death has caused.
Some of the most common causes of wrongful death that the wrongful death attorneys from name of firm have handled:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Product liability
- Criminal activity
- Workplace accidents
In order to prove a wrongful death case, there are four elements that a Charlottesville VA wrongful death attorney needs to show to the court:
Prove negligence: The wrongful death attorney must prove that the victim’s death was caused at least in part from the alleged at-fault party’s negligence.
Breach of duty: The Charlottesville VA wrongful death attorney must prove that there was a breach of duty that failed and resulted in the victim’s death. For example, a driver who runs a red light that causes a fatal car accident breached the duty he or she has to every single driver to obey the rules of the road. The breach occurred when the driver ran the red light.
Cause of death: The wrongful death attorney Charlottesville VA wrongful death attorney must prove that the act of negligence of the at-fault party caused the death of the victim. Using the above example, the running of the red light caused the crash that resulted in fatal injuries of the victim.
Damages: The wrongful death attorney must show that the family members filing the wrongful death lawsuit have suffered both economic and noneconomic damages as a result of the victim’s death. Expenses such as medical bills for lifesaving attempts of the victim, funeral and burial expenses, loss of the victim’s income, loss of the victim’s love, guidance, and companionship are just some of the losses that the at-fault party could be held liable for.
It can take a long time for a wrongful death lawsuit to work its way through the legal system. This is why many wrongful death attorneys and the at-fault party’s legal representative will often engage in settlement negotiations in order to avoid a trial. If both sides cannot agree on a fair and just amount, then the case will proceed to trial where a judge or jury will hear both sides and then decide if the alleged at-fault party is legally liable for the victim’s death.
If your family has lost a loved one and would like to learn more about your legal options, contact a Charlottesville VA wrongful death attorney from MartinWren, P.C. today.
4 Steps in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
When a loved one dies because of another person’s negligence, recklessness or willful act, it’s called a wrongful death. Traffic accidents, slip and falls, medical malpractice and unsafe premises can all be causes of wrongful death. What should you do when your loved one has had a wrongful death? Here are the steps a Charlottesville VA wrongful death attorney might recommend you take.
1. Talk to a Lawyer
If your loved one has died in a wrongful death, you should immediately call a lawyer from Martin Wren, P.C. Attorneys at Law. Wrongful death cases can be incredibly complex, and there are statutes of limitations defining how long you have to file your lawsuit. Your Charlottesville VA wrongful death attorney can help make sure the responsible parties are identified, your case is brought in a timely manner and the proper damages are claimed.
2. Investigate the Causes of the Wrongful Death
In medical malpractice cases, this can involve getting copies of the decedent’s medical records and having them explained by experts who may become witnesses if your case goes to trial. With a car accident, your Charlottesville VA wrongful death attorney would get a copy of the police report and talk to any witnesses there may have been.
3. Determine the Bills and Damage Claims
Damages can be economic, with solid numbers attached, or non-economic, which are harder to quantify. Some bills and damages include:
- Medical costs from the time of injury to the time of death
- Funeral expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of future wages
- Loss of support
- Loss of companionship
- Pain and suffering
4. Negotiate With the Other Party’s Insurance Company
Aggressive negotiations are often needed to reach a fair settlement for you and your family. The insurance company won’t want to give you as much as you’re asking for. Your Charlottesville VA wrongful death attorney at Martin Wren, P.C. Attorneys at Law will not let you settle for less than you deserve.
5. Go to Trial
If the other party’s insurance company refuses to settle for a reasonable amount, your attorney is ready to take them to court. Your lawyer will play a part in jury selection then prove to them that the other party is liable for your damages. Unlike a criminal trial, where guilt must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, in a civil case, you just need a preponderance of the evidence. Jurors only have to be 50% sure the other party is liable.
If your loved one dies because of another person’s negligent or reckless behavior, not only are you forced to go through a grieving process unexpectedly, but you also may have to struggle with the decision to file a wrongful death lawsuit. If you know that your family member died through no fault of your own, you likely have a sufficient claim to file this lawsuit, but starting this process can quickly become complicated.
While this claim can add even more stress to your plate, each Charlottesville, Virginia wrongful death attorney at MartinWren, P.C. can help you so that you do not have to become overwhelmed by the legal steps to take. Instead, trust that we can help determine if you are eligible to make this claim and proceed in the way that’s best for you and your family.
How Do I Know If I Have a Claim for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A Charlottesville VA wrongful death attorney can determine if the circumstances of your case warrant a wrongful death lawsuit. If your loved one was in a situation where they would have passed away regardless of the defendant’s actions, you might not have a substantial case moving forward. On the other hand, if your loved one died through the direct actions—either negligent or deliberate—of the defendant and they would not have died without being in that situation, you probably have substantial grounds for filing a lawsuit.
When filing this lawsuit, we must have two things in place:
- The defendant caused the deceased’s death in some way and it was not the result of the deceased’s doing.
- The surviving family members depended on the deceased in some way and have suffered measurable loss and damages after their loved one has passed.
Thus, many wrongful death lawsuits typically involve a type of work-related accident, an automobile accident, or a criminal act.
How Do I Know If I Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
There are typically a few people who can file this lawsuit in every state. These are:
Depending on which state you live in, grandparents, siblings, and other extended family members can even file this suit. A wrongful death attorney in Charlottesville VA can determine who is your family can file a lawsuit for the death of your loved one.
What Types of Damages Can We Expect?
The family members of the deceased can usually collect several types of damages in a wrongful death lawsuit. This includes:
- Expenses relating to the funeral or burial
- Medical bills
- Compensation for the deceased’s lost earning if the deceased had lived to their normal life expectancy
- Compensatory damages involving pain and suffering and non-economic damages that can be hard to quantify
What If a Slip and Fall Causes a Wrongful Death?
When it comes to dealing with the loss of a loved one who died from a slip and fall, many people are unprepared for what is to come. The medical bills can be sky-high, the funeral costs can be expensive, and they may not be expecting insurance to deny their wrongful death claim or give them such a low offer. Especially if you do not have a legal background, you may be wondering if this is the norm and if you should just accept the first offer you get. However, the wrongful death attorneys from Martin Wren PC want to fight back on your behalf so that you and your loved ones can begin picking up the pieces instead of fighting an insurance battle. For more information on how we can help out, contact our office now.
Slip and Fall Deaths
One of the major problems that many people in this situation encounter is that many insurance adjusters do not believe that a slip and fall accident can truly result in death. However, slip and fall accidents can be quite severe. Even if they do not lead to a person dying, they can cause severe infection, broken bones, and even the need for amputation. When you are trying to recover compensation for a loved one dying from a slip and fall, we will need to prove that:
- Your loved one slipped and fell on someone else’s property.
- The slip and fall accident was caused because the property owner was negligent.
- The slip and fall directly led to your loved one’s death.
So, if your loved one was in a slip and fall accident, got up, drove a car to the store, and was hit by someone else on the road, clearly, they did not die from the slip and fall accident. They died from the car accident. However, even if your loved one did not die at the scene it does not mean the slip and fall did not cause their death. It is possible that they passed away in the hospital later from complications from the slip and fall accidents. If this is the case, we will work with the doctors who were responsible for taking care of your loved one to get their notes and medical records.
If your loved one died because of a slip and fall accident, you and your family have the right to seek compensation for the pain and suffering as well as the expenses that you are accruing. To see how the compassionate attorneys at Martin Wren PC can help, contact our office now.
A Wrongful Death Lawyer from MartinWren, P.C. Can Help with Your Suit
Filing any type of lawsuit can be complex. However, it can seem almost impossible when you are still coping with the loss of your loved one. When you need a trusted attorney who will look out for your family’s best interests and make the right decision for your wrongful death lawsuit, you can count on a Charlottesville VA wrongful death attorney at MartinWren, P.C. Schedule your free consultation with us today.