Virginia Wrongful Death Claims Attorney
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Losing a family member is never easy. When someone is killed suddenly as
a result of the negligence of another else, that loss can be even harder
to bear. In addition to grief, families are often left with the added
stresses of funeral and burial expenses, medical bills, and other debts
and legal concerns. Although there is no justice that can bring a family
member back, a Richmond wrongful death attorney from our firm can help
you navigate this time and pursue fair compensation for your loss.
We are here to help. Take the first step by
filling out a free case evaluation.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death
If your loved one has died due to the negligence of another, you may be
able to sue for "wrongful death." This is true even in the case
of murder or manslaughter. Regardless of the cause, someone found liable
for wrongful death does not necessarily need to be charged with a crime
to be held accountable.
A wrongful death may occur due to a wide variety of causes or accidents,
Intentional acts of violence
Criminal acts like assaults
Farm equipment incidents
As the most common form of transportation, most people are in automobiles
at some point during the day. Due to this, motor vehicle accidents are
known to be one of the leading causes of deaths in the U.S. according
to the NHTSA.
In addition, medical malpractice is another common cause of wrongful death.
The U.S. Department of Justice statistics estimate that more than 90%
of all medical malpractice lawsuits filed are a result of a death or permanent,
disabling injury. In the event that a medical provider fails to perform
their duties pursuant to the standard of care and a patient dies as a
result, the patient's family may be able to file a wrongful death claim.
Workplace accidents can also lead to fatalities and wrongful death claims.
Falls, equipment accidents, explosions, burns, and exposure to toxic chemicals
cause many deaths each year. In Virginia, accidents that occur while the
victim is working can be complicated and may require the assistance of
an attorney who is experienced with claims for deaths in the workplace.
Filing Wrongful Death Claims
A claim for wrongful death can only be filed by the personal representative
(sometimes referred to as the "administrator") of the decedent's
estate. Claims for personal injury, conscious pain and suffering and medical
bills or other costs incurred before the victim's death are also made
by the personal representative.
Every state has a civil wrongful death statute which outlines the laws
and procedures that guide wrongful death claims. Any settlement or court
award from wrongful death lawsuits are distributed to the statutory beneficiaries,
which are determined by Virginia law. Any settlement of such claims must
be approved by a judge in Virginia.
Elements of Wrongful Death Claims
Generally, for a wrongful death claim to be successful, it must contain
the following elements:
The death of a human being;
Death caused by the negligence of another or another's intent to cause harm;
Surviving family members who suffer grief or financial damages as a result
of the death; and
The appointment of a personal representative or administrator for the estate.
Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
In Virginia, grief or
"solatium" damages are the primary measure of damages in a wrongful death case. Financial
damages are also available. Financial damages include loss of services,
loss of future income, loss of protection, care and assistance, medical
bills, funeral and burial expenses. Finally, a monetary award may include
interest from the date of the decedent's death.
When evaluating and calculating the value of financial losses, many aspects
must be considered, including the age, character and condition of the
decedent, his/her earning capacity, life expectancy, health and intelligence,
as well as the particular situation of the beneficiaries and what their
Most often, the main factor in awarding damages is the decedent's life
circumstances at the time of his or her death. For example, when an employed
adult with children dies, the major facets of the financial damages are
loss of income and parental guidance. The decedent's earnings at the
time of their passing, the last known earnings if they were not working
at the time of death, and potential future earnings may also be considered.
The surviving beneficiaries may get grief damages as well.
Survival Actions for Personal Injury
As mentioned above, beneficiaries may be able to recover damages for personal
injury to their loved one. These cases are referred to as "survival
actions," since the personal injury case "survives" the
individual who was injured. The victim's personal representative can
file such a claim along with the wrongful death suit, for the benefit
of the decedent's estate. Damages for a victim's conscious pain and suffering may be considered
in a survival action. The amount of damages appropriate can be based on
the victim's fear of impending death, the amount of time conscious
and suffering, and the degree of consciousness.
Getting Legal Counsel Through this Time
If you have lost a loved one due to an accident caused by the negligence
or misconduct of another individual or company,
you may be entitled to make a claim for wrongful death. If you believe that you may have a valid wrongful death claim, contact
the experienced wrongful death attorneys at the Halperin Law Center for a
no-cost consultation to discuss the specifics of the case. We cannot bring back your loved
ones, but we can be your partner for seeking justice and obtaining financial
Contact our personal injury lawyers at our firm in Richmond to get a free consultation.