Virginia Wrongful Death LawyerVirginia Wrongful Death Lawyer

For more than 30 years, Abingdon wrongful death lawyer Mark Hurt has represented families who have lost a loved one.  If your family has suffered such loss, we invite you to contact our firm for a free consultation and to learn how we can help in seeking the full and fair compensation that you deserve.

Under Virginia law, a wrongful death is defined as a death “caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default” of another person.[1] If you have lost a loved one as a result of someone else’s negligent actions or inactions, you may be able to file a lawsuit for financial compensation.

We understand the financial and emotional hardships that arise after the tragic loss of a family member.  Please call our firm to learn more about the types of damages to which you and your firm may be entitled.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Case in Virginia?  And Who Can Potentially Recover in a Wrongful Death Case?

If you have recently lost a loved one, we offer our sincerest condolences.  We understand that losing someone close to you can be both psychologically and financially damaging.  Funeral costs and household bills may be mounting, possibly placing you and your family in a position you never anticipated.  Fortunately, the State of Virginia has enacted laws that entitle certain family members to a financial recovery in the event of a wrongful death.

Under Virginia Code, a wrongful death case can be brought by the personal representative of the deceased person.[2] Those entitled to damages are set forth under the Virginia Code, and depend upon factors such as whether the deceased was married, whether the deceased had children, and whether parents or other family members were financially dependent upon the deceased.

Specifically, Virginia law provides that damages in a wrongful death may be awarded to:

  • The surviving spouse, children of the deceased and children of any deceased child of the deceased, and the parents of the decedent if any of such parents, within 12 months prior to the decedent’s death regularly received support from the decedent, or
  • If there be none such, then to the parents, brothers and sisters of the deceased, and to any other relative who is primarily dependent on the decedent for support or services and is also a member of the same household, or
  • If the decedent has left both surviving spouse and parent or parents, but no child or grandchild, the award will be distributed to the surviving spouse and such parent or parents, or
  • If there are survivors under the first or third category, the award will be distributed to those beneficiaries and to any other relative who is primarily dependent on the decedent for support.[3]

It is important to note, that half-brothers and half-sisters fall within the same class as parents and thus also may be able to recover damages. 

Does the Representative of a Decedent’s Estate Determine Who Gets Financial Recovery in a Virginia Wrongful Death Case?

To proceed with a wrongful death suit, a personal representative of the decedent’s estate must file the claim.  There is a common misconception that the representative has the power to decide to whom the damages will be awarded;  however, a judge will ultimately make this determination.

In the case of a wrongful death settlement, a judge must approve the amount of recovered losses and the recipients.  If a wrongful death case goes to trial, a judge or jury must specify the specific amounts that will be awarded to each party.  In the event that a decedent’s beneficiaries cannot agree on the distribution of a settlement award, a trial or hearing will be conducted to determine the interest that each beneficiary has in the damages.

As an experienced Virginia wrongful death attorney, Mark Hurt can evaluate your situation and help determine if you are eligible to potentially collect on behalf of your deceased loved one.

What Types of Damages Can Be Awarded Collect in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

In a wrongful death suit, fair and just damages may be awarded for the following:

  • Sorrow, mental anguish, and solace which may include society, companionship, comfort, and guidance of the decedent;
  • Compensation for reasonably expected loss of income of the decedent and services, protection, care and assistance provided by the decedent;
  • Expenses for the care, treatment and hospitalization of the victim incident to the injury that resulted in the death;
  • Reasonable funeral expenses; and
  • Punitive damages for willful or wanton conduct, or such recklessness as evinces a conscious disregard for someone else’s safety.[4]

How Long Do I Have to File a Virginia Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Virginia law imposes a two-year statute of limitation (the amount of time you have to file a case) for wrongful death cases.  Simply stated, this means that a wrong death claim must be filed within two years of the date of the decedent’s passing.  If the claim is not brought within the statute of limitations, it may be barred from being heard in court.

Under certain limited circumstances, the two-year statute of limitations may be tolled (such as when a person is disabled at the time of the accident and subsequently dies much later or if the responsible party has concealed its negligence that led to the death).  If it has been more than two years since you lost your loved one, we may be able to help determine if your case qualifies under one of these exceptions.

What Should I Do If I Don’t Have the Money to Hire a Virginia Wrongful Death Attorney?

We understand that after a tragic accident, the financial stability of your family may be in jeopardy.  Therefore, we accept wrongful death and personal injury cases on a contingent-fee basis, and we advance the costs of litigation on behalf of the families who have lost a loved one.  This means that there is no fee for us unless and until you receive compensation.  Costs and advanced fees are typically deducted from the final settlement or award; these and other financial matters concerning representation will be disclosed in our representation agreement so that you know exactly what to expect when you hire our firm.

Why Should I Get Help from The Law Office of Mark T. Hurt

For over three decades, our firm’s founder, Mark Hurt, has been vigorously litigating on behalf of Virginia clients to help hold parties responsible for their negligence.  When you hire the Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt, you will not be passed off to a junior associate; Mark will personally represent you.  You can rest assured that a seasoned and skilled litigator is working to protect your legal rights.

We represent clients in all types of wrongful death cases, including:

  • Car and vehicle crashes and accidents
  • Medical malpractice cases
  • Commercial truck crashes
  • Motorcycle and bicycling accidents
  • Defective products
  • Falls
  • Pedestrian fatalities
  • Boating fatalities
  • Workplace fatalities (in suing non-employer responsible parties)

Mark graduated with honors from Duke Law School, and has litigated in Virginia state courts, as well as federal courts, including our nation’s highest, The United States Supreme Court.  As a wrongful death attorney, Mark is known as a meticulous and experienced lawyer who fights zealously to get clients the fair settlement or award they deserve.

If you have lost a loved one and want to hold those responsible accountable, call today for a free consultation to learn about how we can help you and your family.


[1] Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-50

[2] Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-50

[3] Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-53

[4] Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-52