Beneficiaries of Virginia Wrongful Death Claims
In Virginia, a wrongful death claim may be brought if the death of a person is caused by the negligence or wrongful act of another. The wrongful death claim must be filed by the personal representative of the deceased’s estate. The personal representative may be named in the deceased’s will, or if there is no will, may be appointed by the court.
Virginia Wrongful Death Claims: Types of Accidents
Wrongful death claims can be brought for many different types of accidents, including car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, medical malpractice cases, and more. If you have lost a loved one in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled file a wrongful death claim to help compensate for your losses.
Compensation in a Virginia wrongful death claim may include damages for the deceased person’s pain and suffering prior to their death, as well as for the loss of companionship and support suffered by the surviving family members. In some cases, punitive damages may also be available.
Virginia Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Virginia law covering wrongful death claims determines the way that damages are calculated in wrongful death cases. Families who have lost a loved one as a result of the negligence of another may be entitled to a wrongful death settlement for:
- The decedent’s pain and suffering from the time of the accident or injury until death
- The decedent’s lost earnings and benefits from the time of the accident or injury until death
- The value of the services, protection, care and assistance that the decedent would have provided to his or her family
- The loss of companionship, love, comfort, society, affection, solace, moral support, and/or other intangible losses experienced by the decedent’s surviving spouse, children, parents or other close relatives.
- Punitive damages may also be available in a Virginia wrongful death case in some circumstances. Punitive damages are designed to punish a defendant whose actions were particularly egregious or showed willful or wanton conduct amounting to disregard for the safety of others.
Virginia Wrongful Death Claims: Surviving Family Members
The Virginia law set out in Virginia Code § 8.01-53 discusses the possible beneficiaries for wrongful death cases. For each wrongful death case, a court must determine the beneficiaries of any money awarded as well as how the settlement or trial sum will be distributed. Damages for wrongful death may be awarded by the court from the deceased person’s estate as follows:
- To the surviving spouse of the decedent, but if there is no surviving spouse, then:
- If there are surviving children of the decedent, to the children; or
- If there are no surviving children of the decedent, but there are surviving parents of the decedent, to the parents; or
- If there is no surviving spouse or child of the decedent and no parent survives the decedent, to any other relative who was wholly or partly dependent upon the decedent.
Virginia law allows courts to have a great deal of discretion in distributing wrongful death settlement funds to a surviving family member, and will carefully consider all of the circumstances of each case in making a determination.
Why Do I Need a Lawyer for a Wrongful Death Claim?
The Virginia wrongful death statutes can be complex, and the process of filing a claim and pursuing damages can be challenging. Family members who have lost a loved one due to the negligence of another risk not collecting everything that they may be entitled to.
After experiencing the devastating loss of a family member, the surviving family member who is left behind doesn’t want to deal with phone calls from insurance adjusters or the insurance company’s lawyer. Having an experienced Virginia personal injury lawyer can help navigate the legal process, gather evidence to support the wrongful death lawsuit, and fight for the full compensation you may be entitled to. If you have lost a loved one in an accident caused by someone else’s wrongful act, don’t wait to get help. Contact a Virginia wrongful death attorney today.
Talk To an Experienced Virginia Wrongful Death Attorney
If you have been lost a loved one due to the negligence of someone else, you or other family members may be entitled to receive compensation. To learn more about recovering these damages, contact a wrongful death attorney today. They can help you understand the process, gather the evidence you need to support your claim, and file a wrongful death claim. Don’t wait to get the compensation you may be entitled to.
The wrongful death attorneys at the Ritchie Law Firm, we’re here to help guide you through the process and ensure that you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation. We’ll answer all your questions and help you decide if hiring a lawyer is the best option for you.
Contact us by phone at 800-277-6124 or by using our online contact form.
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Ritchie Law Firm is a personal injury law firm devoted to helping individuals who have suffered serious and catastrophic injuries or lost a loved one as a result of someone else’s negligence. Ritchie Law Firm serves all of Virginia, while helping clients in cities and surrounding areas of Harrisonburg, Charlottesville, Staunton, and Winchester also serves clients in West Virginia, including Martinsburg, WV.
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