The death of a loved one is always difficult regardless of the age of the deceased individual or the cause of death; even death as a result of old age can be a painful thing for a surviving loved one to experience. And while death is a natural and inevitable part of life, there is nothing natural or acceptable about a death that results from the wrongful act of another.
If you are a person who has lost a family member due to another’s wrongful act or neglect, you may have a wrongful death claim. To learn more about wrongful death claims and how our passionate lawyers can help, please call Schilling & Esposito Personal Injury Attorneys today to request a free consultation.
What is a Wrongful Death Case?
A wrongful death case is a type of civil action that is filed when a party’s death would not have occurred but for the wrongful act or neglect of another party. A wrongful death case can typically be pursued with the deceased would have had a personal injury claim against the defendant had the incident not resulted in death. The elements of a wrongful death case include:
Duty of care – You must prove that the defendant owed the deceased a duty of care;
Breach of duty of care – It must be established that the defendant breached the duty of care owed to the defendant via a wrongful or negligent act;
Causation – The negligent or wrongful act must have been the direct cause of the decedent’s death; and
Damages – A plaintiff must establish that beneficiaries suffered actual damages as a result of the death.
There are multiple types of wrongful death cases. A plaintiff may bring a wrongful death action for a death resulting from a:
Motor vehicle accident;
Bicycle or pedestrian accident;
Defective product accident;
Dangerous premises accident;
Slip and fall accident;
Nursing home neglect/abuse incident;
Commercial vehicle accident;
Medical malpractice case; and
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit in Virginia?
In Virginia, only the personal representative of the decedent can bring forth a suit for wrongful death, as found in the Code of Virginia Section 8.01-50 (C). This might be a spouse, parent, child, or another party as named by a person’s will or appointed by the court. While the personal representative will file the claim, damages may be recovered on the behalf of beneficiaries such as a spouse, child, etc.
Damages Recoverable in a Wrongful Death Action
Article 5 of the Code of Virginia explains the financial amount in damages that a party may recover in a wrongful death action. As written in the state’s code, the jury or the court may award any damages that “seem fair and just.” These types of damages might include, but are not limited to:
Loss of society, companionship, and comfort of the deceased;
Reasonable loss of income and earning capacity of the deceased;
Loss of value of services and protection provided by the deceased;
Any medical expenses resulting from the injury that led to death;
Funeral and burial expenses; and
Punitive damages if the death was the result of the willful or wanton conduct or such recklessness “as evinces a conscious disregard for the safety of others.”
A wrongful death case must be brought forth within a specific amount of time as stipulated by the Virginia statute of limitations. The statute limits the amount of time a plaintiff has to bring forth a wrongful death action to two years from the date of death. If the claim is not filed within the two-year time limit, the case will likely be barred and no damages will be recoverable.
Survival Action vs. Wrongful Death Action
Another type of civil action that is recognized in Virginia is a survival action. Survival actions are not to be confused with wrongful death actions, although the two terms are often used (incorrectly) interchangeably. A wrongful death action, described above, allows surviving family members to recover compensation for losses suffered by the family/beneficiaries. A survival action, on the other hand, refers to a personal injury claim that was started by the plaintiff yet was not completed due to the plaintiff’s death. A survival action seeks to recover damages suffered by the decedent, not the decedent’s beneficiaries.
If your loved one was in the process of filing a personal injury lawsuit and died from their injuries prior to the conclusion of the suit, call the survival action attorneys at Schilling & Esposito today to learn more about how we can help.
You Deserve to Be Compensated
After losing a family member, moving forward with life may feel impossible. You may not only be mourning your loved one’s loss, but also concerned about how you will possibly continue paying your bills and providing for your family now that you’re facing medical expenses, funeral and burial expenses, and the loss of income and support. While there is nothing that can be done to alleviate your grief or bring your loved one back, filing a wrongful death action may provide a sense of justice and provide you with the financial support you need during the most difficult of times.
At the law offices of Schilling & Esposito Personal Injury Attorneys, we know what you’re going through and empathize with your situation. When you hire our law office, we promise to work for you as we would a member of our own family. We have the experience and acumen necessary to navigate the most complex of cases and are passionate about making sure you get the services and settlement you deserve.
Contact An Experienced Virginia Wrongful Death Attorney
If you have lost a loved one and you believe that the death would not have occurred but for the wrongful actions of another party please call our law firm immediately to schedule your free consultation. You can reach our Virginia wrongful death lawyers by phone at 804-261-1001 or by sending us a message using the contact form on our website. We have two locations in Richmond – you are welcome to visit either or both at your convenience.
Losing a loved one is terrible, especially when the death was preventable. To start the process of filing your wrongful death suit, please contact us today.