Who Can Recover in A Wrongful Death Case in Virginia?
The loss of a loved one is often not just emotionally draining; it can also place a family in financial peril. From funeral and burial costs to medical bills (for care administered before death) to lost wages, the unexpected expenses associated with a wrongful death place many families in dire financial straits.
There is no easy way to face the unexpected loss of a loved one, as the emotional grief and financial loss can be crushing under any circumstances. However, it can feel significantly more troubling where death was potentially preventable. Fortunately, under Virginia law, the personal representative of a decedent’s estate is entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of beneficiaries to pursue justice, accountability, and financial compensation from all liable parties.
There are complex rules regarding the specific family members who may be entitled to recover in a wrongful death case. If your loved one died in a preventable accident, we offer our sincerest condolences for your loss. We also invite you to call our office to schedule a free, no-risk consultation to discuss legal remedies for your family’s loss with experienced wrongful death attorney Mark Hurt, who can explain about which family members may be entitled to compensation based upon the facts and circumstances of your case.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire an Experienced Virginia Wrongful Death Attorney?
At The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt, we represent wrongful death victims on contingency, meaning we do not charge a fee unless we successfully recover compensation through a settlement or jury award. We also advance litigation expenses while a case is ongoing (typically fully covered by a settlement or damages).
As a wrongful death lawyer with over two decades of experience, firm-founding attorney Mark Hurt has a track record of success in wrongful death matters and has recovered millions of dollars in compensation for clients.
When you hire our firm, your case will not be passed to a junior associate; instead, Mark Hurt will personally handle your family’s legal matter from start to finish. Further, you will not have to come out of pocket for a retainer or other legal expenses to benefit from Mark’s extensive experience. Call our office to get started today.
What Is a Wrongful Death Under Virginia Law?
Virginia law defines a wrongful death as a death caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another party. The facts surrounding the death must demonstrate that the injuries suffered would have allowed the individual to pursue a personal injury claim had he or she survived. Because the decedent cannot file a claim on his or her own behalf, the personal representative of the estate must file a lawsuit on behalf of the statutory beneficiaries.
How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Virginia?
In Virginia, a decedent’s personal representative has two years from the time of death (or the time of discovery that a wrongful death occurred) to file a claim against all liable parties. Because there is only a limited time to initiate a wrongful death lawsuit, it is critical to reach out to our office as soon as possible so that deadlines can be monitored and a thorough investigation can be conducted.
Who Is Entitled to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Virginia?
In some states, a decedent’s surviving family members can file a wrongful death claim; however, in Virginia, the personal representative of the estate must file a claim. Any damages awarded will be awarded to statutory beneficiaries, meaning family members or dependents who may recover from the estate under law, including:
- Group 1: The decedent’s spouse, children, or grandchildren (if a child is deceased)
- Group 2: If there are no surviving family members in Group 1, then surviving parents and siblings, or any relative who was dependent on and shared a house with the decedent may be entitled to collect; or
- Group 3: If there are no survivors in Groups 1 or 2, then any surviving family members who are entitled to inherit part of the estate may be eligible to damages.
What Types of Damages May Be Awarded in A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Under Virginia law, the damages (compensation for losses caused by the death) in a wrongful matter may include compensation for:
- Loss of income of the decedent (including wages and benefits that would have been earned had the individual lived);
- Pain and suffering;
- Loss of services, protection, assistance, and care;
- Medical expenses (related to a decedent’s final injury or illness);
- Reasonable funeral and burial expenses; and
- Punitive damages (if the conduct was especially egregious).
How Are Wrongful Deaths Usually Caused?
Over 165,000 unintentional deaths occur annually, many of which were preventable. From car accidents and prescription medication errors to a defective product or car parts, faulty mechanical repairs, and many other easily avoidable incidents, countless circumstances can lead to wrongful death cases. The following are a few of the most common causes:
- Automobile Accidents. Over 30,000 individuals are killed in car accidents each year. When an individual dies in a car accident, family members often can file claims to seek compensation from liable parties, including motorists, government agencies who manage roads, commercial drivers, and vehicle manufacturers.
- Medical Malpractice. Approximately 100,000 Americans die each year due to preventable medical errors, such as birth injuries, surgical errors, medication errors, misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis, defective medical equipment, and nursing home abuse and neglect.
- Slip and Falls. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 17,000 people die in the U.S. each year due to slip, trip and fall injuries.
- Workplace Accidents. On average, an individual dies every 99 minutes from work-related injuries, resulting in thousands of deaths annually.
- Product Liability. Virginia product liability laws hold designers, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers accountable for making or selling dangerous products.
- Commercial Truck Accidents. Due to the sheer size and weight (approximately 80,000 pounds) of tractor-trailers, 18-wheelers, and semi-trucks, accidents with smaller passenger cars can often result in fatalities.
- Criminal Activity. Thousands of people die from homicide each year.
How Can a Virginia Wrongful Death Attorney Help Me?
Wrongful death cases can be exceptionally challenging, as defendants often do everything possible to avoid liability and financial responsibility. At The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt, we have over two decades of experience handling wrongful death matters and have recovered millions of dollars in compensation for clients. We can thoroughly investigate the facts of your case, explain your legal options, negotiate settlements for full and fair compensation, and tenaciously fight for the maximum compensation possible to help cover some of your losses.