The death of a loved one can be devastating. And that death can become even more devastating if they were someone you depended on in your life.
But what if their death was the result of what someone else did or failed to do? Do you have grounds to file a wrongful death suit?
What Constitutes Wrongful Death in Virginia?
According to Virginia Code 8.01-50, “Whenever the death of a person shall be caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of any person or corporation, or of any ship or vessel, and the act, neglect, or default is such as would, if death had not ensued, have entitled the party” to file a personal injury lawsuit, the death is considered wrongful.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Virginia law states that the possible beneficiaries of a wrong death award can be the following, known as “statutory beneficiaries”:
-the surviving spouse and children or grandchildren of the deceased person
-the surviving parents and siblings of the deceased, or any relative who shares the deceased person’s household and is a dependent of the deceased
-any surviving family member entitled to inherit the deceased’s estate under Virginia’s intestacy laws
How Long Do You Have to File?
In Virginia, wrongful death claims have to be filed within two years of the date of the deceased person’s death. If a wrongful death claim is not filed within two years, the state’s “statute of limitations” bars it from being heard in court.
What Can Damages be Awarded For?
If you win a wrongful death lawsuit you can be awarded damages for the following, again, according to Virginia law:
- Sorrow, mental anguish, and solace which may include society, companionship, comfort, guidance, kindly offices and advice of the decedent;
- Compensation for reasonably expected loss of (i) income of the decedent and (ii) services, protection, care and assistance provided by the decedent;
- Expenses for the care, treatment and hospitalization of the decedent incident to the injury resulting in death;
- Reasonable funeral expenses; and
- Punitive damages may be recovered for willful or wanton conduct, or such recklessness as evinces a conscious disregard for the safety of others.
It must be remembered that a wrongful death lawsuit is what is considered a “civil action,” not to be confused with possible criminal charges that may have been filed against the person(s) responsible for the death of your loved one.
Another thing to think about when considering a wrongful death lawsuit is the amount of time and money it will take to see the case through. Does the possible award at the end make up for everything you will have to go through? Will it be worth possibly reliving the death of your loved one in court?
If you have more questions about filing a wrongful death suit in Virginia, contact the experienced attorneys at Hilton and Somer for a free consultation.