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Dealing with the death of a loved one is terrible, but a Virginia wrongful death lawyer can help. This is especially true if your loved one’s death was preventable because it was caused by the carelessness, negligence or fault of another person or company. When a death is caused by another person’s negligence, the surviving loved ones may have grounds to seek compensation under what is called a “wrongful death action;” a wrongful death lawyer Charlottesville, VA trusts can help answer the questions you may have. A wrongful death lawsuit is a claim for money damages from the person or entity whose negligence caused another person’s death. Wrongful death lawsuits occur when there is evidence that shows that a death would not have occurred if not for the negligent actions or misconduct of another person. The MartinWren, P.C., Attorneys At Law can help.
What Qualifies As a Wrongful Death?
Under Virginia law, a wrongful death action can be brought when someone’s death is caused by “the wrongful act, neglect, or default of any person” or business, and, had the individual not died, he or she would be able to bring an injury action against the person or business. Virginia law also recognizes the right of a mother to bring a wrongful death action on behalf of her unborn child that dies due to the wrongful act or negligence of another person or entity. The wrongful death lawyer Charlottesville, VA residents rely upon can help you navigate the ins and outs of our State laws surrounding wrongful death claims. Wrongful death can also occur, for example, when a victim is intentionally killed, when a victim dies because of medical malpractice, or as the result of a car accident that resulted in fatalities. A wrongful death claim can stem from almost any kind of personal injury and the process for proving wrongful death is very similar to that of proving a personal injury case.
What Are Some Examples?
- Medical professionals who commit medical malpractice or negligence
- Drivers who disobey traffic laws and cause accidents
- Manufacturers who produced faulty product
- Businesses who exposed their employee to harmful conditions
- Someone who committed a murder
- Anyone who failed to exercise due care in a situation that results in death
Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death?
The family of the deceased are able to sue for wrongful death. More specifically, the deceased’s next of kin or surviving spouse can sue for wrongful death. If the deceased had a will at the time of their death, a court will usually appoint an executor or representative to administer the state and that person in most states is the person who has the sole right to bring a wrongful death suit on behalf of the deceased.
Wrongful death claims can also be brought by the personal representative of the decedent’s estate, usually an executor or an administrator. In plain English, that means that a court will appoint someone to bring a lawsuit or settle the claim. For unborn children who died in the womb due to the negligence or wrongful act of another party, the wrongful death action can be brought by the child’s mother or the mother’s personal representative. A representative or executor may wish to seek help from wrongful death lawyer Charlottesville, VA has called upon for years to provide direction.
How Are Wrongful Death Suits Resolved?
Wrongful death suits are often resolved through a settlement which looks to place a number on the pain and suffering of not only the person who died, but their loved ones that they leave behind. It can be difficult to imagine putting a number on your loved one’s death, which is why having a wrongful death lawyer from Charlottesville, Virginia on your side like one from MartinWren, P.C., Attorneys At Law can help to ease the burden in this emotional time.
There are several factors which may be considered while each side looks to reach a consensus on the amount of the settlement.
- The age of the deceased
- The deceased’s state of health at the time of the accident
- Funeral expenses
- Medical bills and other expenses
- The deceased’s education
- The deceased’s income at their time of death
- Value of the deceased’s lost benefits (such as health insurance or pension)
- The deceased’s earning capacity
- The ages of the deceased’s dependents
Juries or a judge in a wrongful death trial are allowed to award money for a number of different reasons. Unlike in a personal injury action, however, where the injured party is entitled to collect compensation for the injuries he or she suffered, compensation for wrongful death claims is based on the financial and emotional impact caused by the deceased person’s death.
According to Virginia law, wrongful death damages can include compensation for the following items:
- “Sorrow, mental anguish, and solace” of the deceased’s loved ones, which can include a financial award for “society, companionship, comfort, guidance, kindly offices, and advice of the decedent.”
- Financial compensation due to lost income of the decedent and lost “services, protection, care and assistance” from the decedent.
- Expenses and costs due to the medical care and treatment the decedent received before death occurred;
- Reasonable funeral expenses; and
- Punitive damages if the defendant’s conduct was “willful or wanton” or was so reckless that it showed a conscious disregard for the safety of other people.
A Charlottesville wrongful death attorney can discuss which compensation may apply in your suit.
Who Receives the Money from a Wrongful Death Action?
Virginia law also says who receives the money from a wrongful death lawsuit. According to Virginia law, a settlement or verdict from a wrongful death claim shall be distributed among the following parties, in the following order:
- The decedent’s surviving spouse, children, and any grandchildren of a deceased child of the decedent;
- If there is no one available under #1, then to the decedent’s parents and siblings and any person from the decedent’s household who was dependent on the decedent for financial support;
- If the decedent did not have children or grandchildren but did have a surviving spouse and parents, then to the spouse and parents;
- To a combination of the surviving spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, and any person from the decedent’s household who was dependent on the decedent for financial support;
- If none of the previously listed individuals survive, then the award shall be distributed according to the “Course of Descents” established by Virginia law.
The Statute of Limitations for a Wrongful Death Claim
The statute of limitations for a lawsuit requires that the lawsuit be filed within a certain amount of time following an injury or death. If this deadline is not met, the right to recover compensation will be forever lost. In Virginia, wrongful death actions must be filed with a court within two years after the death of the injured person.
Wrongful Death Claims Versus Survival Actions
In addition to a wrongful death claim, where the decedent’s death was caused by the negligence of another party, Virginia also recognizes what is called a “survival action.” In a survival action, the decedent’s personal representative can bring a lawsuit to get money for injuries suffered before the decedent died. In a way, a survival action can be thought of as the decedent’s personal representative taking over the personal injury claim that the injured party would have had.
For more information about a wrongful death claim, please call either Jonathan T. Wren or Kirk T. Becchi, MartinWren, P.C., Attorneys At Law’s Virginia Wrongful Death Attorneys, at (434) 817-3100 or (540) 437-1243.
CONTACT A Wrongful Death Lawyer Charlottesville, VA Trusts
Our consultations are free, and you will not owe any attorneys’ fees unless we recover compensation for you.
Experiencing the loss of a loved one is never an easy thing to do, but it can be especially difficult when you were not expecting it and when it is a result of the negligence of another person or entity. If you lost your loved one because of someone else’s misconduct, you may be able to get compensation with the help of a wrongful death lawyer in Charlottesville, Virginia. Call MartinWren, P.C., Attorneys At Law to speak with one of our attorneys about getting your family the compensation that they deserve.