Wrongful Death

Virginia Wrongful Death Law: How to Bring & Win a Lawsuit

Losing a loved one is hard enough without feeling like someone’s to blame. When you’re sure another person is at fault, it makes you want to do something. You want to act—hold them responsible. Sometimes you can. If there’s evidence the other person involved acted carelessly or malicious—or failed to act when they should have—the law might give your family a legal claim. It’s best to talk with a Richmond wrongful death attorney about the possibilities. Our team at River Run Law is ready to listen to your story. Once we get to the heart of the matter, we can advise you and your family on what you could do next. We make sure you’re informed so you can make the right decision for your family. Contact us today to get started. Does Your Family Have a Valid Wrongful Death Claim? The Virginia wrongful death statute dictates when surviving relatives have a legal claim. Under the Code of Virginia § 8.01-50, if a person’s death is caused by another individual’s or business’s wrongful act, neglect, or default (failure to act), and if that incident would’ve given the person a legal claim had they lived, then the individual or business can be for liable damages. A quick way to think about it is to ask yourself: Would my relative have had a personal injury claim if they lived? If so, then your family may have a wrongful death claim. Common Fatal Accidents That Bring Wronful Death We often represent families after deadly: Car accidents, Motorcycle accidents, Truck accidents, Pedestrian accidents, Dangerous property accidents (premises liability), and Workplace accidents. Whatever type of incident caused your loved one’s death, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re here to answer your questions about what to do next. Difference Between a Survival Claim and a Wrongful Death Claim It’s important to distinguish between a survival claim and a wrongful death claim. A survival claim is a legal claim your loved one had that survived their death. If they didn’t pass away immediately, then they incurred damages that could be recovered in a personal injury claim. Compensation in a survival claim is about what your relative suffered. A wrongful death claim is about what you and your other relatives are suffering. It’s about your financial and emotional injuries. Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit We highly recommend you talk with a lawyer before pursuing a wrongful death claim. You have to follow the legal process correctly; otherwise, you’ll waste time and money. Not just any family member can file this lawsuit. The personal representative of the decedent’s estate has to do it on behalf of loved ones. If you lost your spouse, parent, or child, the personal representative might be you. Or the will or probate court might have named another relative or attorney the representative.   Because only one person can file the lawsuit, it’s important to talk with your relatives. You want to be on the same page about whether to move forward with a legal claim. If you believe in filing a claim, but the personal representative refuses, give us a call to talk through your options. How to File a Virginia Wrongful Death Lawsuit It’s best to have a lawyer handle filing the lawsuit. First, our team thoroughly investigates the fatal accident. If you have any hope of winning compensation, you need proof of the other party’s liability. Gathering and evaluating evidence is a crucial step. When we’re ready to file, we’ll draft the complaint, which is the paperwork that states what your legal claim is, who it’s against, and your damages. We’ll determine the right place to file a lawsuit, which may be the county where your loved one lived. You can’t file just anywhere. You have to bring a case in a court with jurisdiction over the matter. The next step is serving any person or business we named as a defendant. They have to receive formal notice of the complaint. Then, they have a chance to respond. From there, your case moves forward in earnest.  What Happens After You File? Each side gets to use discovery to learn more. Discovery is the process of exchanging information through several legal tools, like depositions, interrogatories (questions), admissions, and requests for the production of documents. Throughout this process, we continue to prepare for trial, whether or not we think a settlement is likely.  What to Expect from the Lawsuit Code of Virginia § 8.01-52 says a jury or court can award damages that are fair and just and may include compensation for: Your sorrow and mental anguish over losing your loved one’s society, companionship, comfort, guidance, and advice; Compensation for the loss of the decedent’s income, services, protection, care, and assistance; Medical expenses for the injuries that led to the decedent’s death; Reasonable funeral expenses; and Punitive damages if the at-fault party is guilty of willful or wanton conduct or recklessness that displays a conscious disregard for the safety of others. The compensation you receive under three and four are apportioned among the creditors who provided medical, burial, and funeral services or those who paid the expenses on the deceased person’s behalf. It doesn’t get spread out between the surviving family members. Who Receives Compensation Virginia’s wrongful death law defines who gets compensation from a settlement or court award. The damages are usually distributed among the surviving spouse, children, and grandchildren from any deceased child. But it gets a bit more complicated. Parents may receive a part of the award if, during the previous 12 months, the decedent provided them with financial support or services for necessities. If there are no spouses, children, or grandchildren, then the compensation is awarded to the parents and siblings or any other relative dependent on the decedent. If the decedent left behind a spouse and parent(s), but no children or grandchildren, then the spouse and parent(s) divide the award. If your lawsuit goes to trial and a jury decides, it also specifies beneficiaries and distribution of the damages. […]

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Car Accident

Step by Step: How to Report a Car Accident in Virginia

You’re in a car crash for the first time, and now, you have to figure out what to do. Before this, you might’ve heard about the general process. You tell the police and your insurance company, right? Yes. You have to report the accident to authorities. Then, it’s usually best to let your insurer know. Reporting the accident might seem like an unnecessary, bureaucratic step. But it’s more than that. It’s the start of building a claim for compensation. That’s important when you’re hurt and have medical bills due.  A Brief Overview Here are the essential facts you need to know: Do I have to report a car accident? If the crash caused property damage, injury, or death, yes. Report it. How do I report an accident? Call the police. The officer who comes to the scene will investigate and file a police crash report. What if the police don’t come to the scene? You can report accidents to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Do I need to tell my insurance company? We recommend you do, yes. If you don’t, you might lose the right to use your policy. Read on for more answers to your questions.  Do I Have to Report a Car Accident in Virginia? Virginia law requires motorists to report most accidents. To start with, you’re required to stop after a collision. Under Virginia Code Section 46.2-894, any driver involved in an accident that causes injury, death, or property damage has to stop close to the scene. You have to help anyone who needs it and exchange information. It also says to report your name, address, driver license number, and vehicle registration number to local or state police. Failing to stop at an accident (hit and run) leads to Class 1 misdemeanor or Class 5 felony charges. What if you know about a hit and run? If you are at least 16 years old and were in the car when someone didn’t stop after an accident, you have to report the crash to the police, based on Section 46.2-895. Take a look at Section 46.2-371 too. It says a driver of any vehicle involved in an accident that causes injury or death must immediately tell a law enforcement officer. Practically speaking, that means calling 911 right after the crash. Failing to report an accident to the police is a Class 4 misdemeanor. Section 46.2-372 says anyone involved in an accident involving injury, death, property damage, or an uninsured driver has to make a written report. You can see there are several laws about reporting accidents to the police. If you were part of a crash, assume you need to report it.  What About Minor Accidents? There’s a lot of confusion about whether to report minor accidents only involving property damage. In these situations, Virginia law doesn’t require a report. You typically don’t need to report an accident that doesn’t involve injury or death and that caused property damage worth less than $1,500. You also don’t have to report accidents that took place on private property. We recommend you make a report anyway. You can call the police’s non-emergency number and ask for an officer to come to the scene and make a report.  Do I Make the Report Myself or Do the Police Do It? You’re probably wondering whether you have to make a report after being in an accident, calling 911, and talking with the police at the crash. The answer is no. The police officer does it. Under Section 46.2-373, any officer who investigates a crash involving injury, death, or property damage worth at least $1,500 has to complete a written report within 24 hours. You’ll have to make a report if the police don’t respond to the crash. This can happen for minor accidents on private property. The police might decline to come out even if you call. Report the crash to the DMV by submitting an accident report (FR200) an information request form (CRD-93), and $8.00.  How Long Do I Have to Report? You should report the accident as soon as possible. Don’t wait weeks unless you’re dealing with catastrophic injuries. Our best advice is to inform the police within 24 hours if they didn’t come to the crash scene. See a doctor and get home safely first. Then make your report. How Do I Get a Copy of the Police Crash Report? You can complete an information request form and pay $8.00 for a copy. You can request a copy from the DMV by mail, fax, or in person. Why Is a Police Report Important? First, it’s important because the law requires it. If you don’t report an accident when you’re supposed to, you might face criminal charges. Second, an accident report is often an important piece of evidence during an insurance claim, workers’ compensation claim, or personal injury lawsuit. Once you report an accident to the police, an officer investigates. The officer gets each driver’s story and might talk with witnesses and take photos. They might give one or both drivers a ticket. After the initial investigation, the officer completes the police crash report and files it with the DMV. The crash report sets out the basics of what happened, which can protect you from the other driver trying to lie or say the crash was your fault. It becomes a key piece of evidence in proving the other driver was negligent.   Do I Have to Report a Crash to My Auto Insurance Company? Whether or not you should report an accident to your insurer depends on a few factors. If it was a minor fender bender with no injuries, you might choose to keep it to yourself. It might be cheaper to pay to repair your car yourself instead of paying your deductible and possibly experiencing higher premiums in the future. But for anything more serious, we highly recommend you tell your insurer. It doesn’t matter who was at fault for the crash. Even if you expect to […]

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Pedestrian Accident

What Should You Do If You or a Pedestrian Is Hit by a Vehicle in Virginia

If you are in an automobile accident with another vehicle, you may be generally familiar with how the claims process works. However, do you know how it works if you are a pedestrian? What do you do if you get hit by a car while walking in Virginia? Unfortunately, pedestrian accidents are a common problem all around Virginia and the rest of the country. If you sustained injuries as a pedestrian, you need a skilled Virginia pedestrian accident attorney who can help. What to Do After a Pedestrian Accident in Virginia If you are a pedestrian in Virginia and struck by a vehicle, it’s crucial to remain calm. If you don’t, you could further injure yourself or make a mistake that could jeopardize your claim.  After a pedestrian accident, you want to get yourself to safety. You need to protect yourself and get out of the way in case more vehicles are coming. Call the Police You should call the police right away, even if you think your injuries are only minor. After an accident, your adrenaline is running high. That adrenaline could mask your injuries, so you may not realize how seriously you are hurt. A police officer needs to come to the scene and take a report. This report will also be critical in your injury claim.  Gather Information Make sure to exchange information with the driver of the vehicle. You need to get their name, address, phone number, driver license number, vehicle make and model, etc. If there are any witnesses present, be sure to get their contact information as well. Take Pictures Try to take photos of the scene of the accident if you are not too severely injured. You can never have too many pictures of the crash scene, the vehicle, your injuries, etc. These photos could wind up being very useful in your future Virginia personal injury claim.  Get Medical Attention If you are not transported from the scene via emergency response personnel, you should still get medical treatment right away. You may have injuries that are more serious than you realize. Internal injuries may not be visible, which is why you need to see a medical provider as soon as possible. Plus, you will need supporting medical documentation to present as evidence in your accident claim. Contact an Attorney Next, you should contact a Virginia pedestrian accident attorney. If you suffered severe injuries, you need someone who can review your case and let you know whether you have a valid personal injury case. What Is the Average Settlement Amount of a Pedestrian Accident in Virginia? Unfortunately, there is no set amount or average for a pedestrian accident settlement. Your claim value will depend on a variety of factors. The reason is that no two cases are the same. Each accident has different circumstances and different injuries. Factors that influence the amount of your potential claim value include: Type of injuries, Severity of injuries, How long it took for your injuries to resolve, Your prognosis, Disability or disfigurement, Loss of earnings, Whether you could return to work again in the same capacity, and Pain and suffering; If you suffered injuries in a pedestrian accident in Virginia, you need an attorney who can help you fight for the maximum compensation you are owed. Pursuing a claim for damages can be complicated, especially if your injuries are severe. Don’t let the insurance company take advantage of you. Instead, let the experienced legal team at River Run Law help. Common Types of Injuries in Virginia Pedestrian Accidents Pedestrians have no protection from vehicles and potentially very little time to escape if they see an accident is about to happen. Many pedestrian accidents involve severe to catastrophic injuries. Even low-speed collisions can result in devastating injuries. Some of the more common types of injuries we see in Virginia pedestrian accidents include: Severe lacerations, Significant bruising, Torn ligaments, Broken bones, Internal bleeding, Organ damage, Dental injuries, Facial injuries, Psychological trauma, Spinal cord damage, Traumatic brain injuries, and Wrongful death. The extent of a victim’s injuries will depend on many factors. These factors include impact points on the body and vehicle, the force of the impact, how fast the vehicle was traveling, and where the victim landed after the accident. How Do Virginia Pedestrian Accidents Occur? There are countless ways a pedestrian could be injured in an accident. Some of the most common causes of Virginia pedestrian accidents include: Distracted driving, Driving under the influence, Texting and driving, Poor visibility in the area, Violating a traffic law, or Exceeding the posted speed limit. In limited scenarios, a vehicle defect can contribute to the accident. For example, a driver’s tire may blow out, causing them to lose control, or their brakes may fail when they try to stop at a traffic light. Types of Damages Available in a Virginia Pedestrian Accident Understandably, potential clients want to know what type of compensation they might get in a personal injury case. Depending on the circumstances of your case, possible damages may include: Medical costs to date, Future expected medical expenses, Lost wages to date, Pain and suffering, and Future loss of earning capacity. In minimal cases, you could be eligible to receive punitive damages. These are damages that are intended to punish the defendant, not compensate you as the plaintiff. They are allowed in Virginia personal injury cases in select scenarios. You can receive punitive damages only if you can show the defendant acted with willful and wanton disregard for your rights or acted with malice. If a defendant’s conduct doesn’t qualify for punitive damages, you can still collect for the other damages provided you are not at fault. If the victim passes away, individual family members may have the right to bring a wrongful death claim. Damages in a wrongful death claim can compensate surviving family members for their losses, such as loss of companionship and financial support. Proving Fault in a Virginia Pedestrian Accident Virginia is one of only a few […]

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Wrongful Death

Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Claim in Virginia?

If you have lost a loved one due to the wrongful actions of another, you may have a valid wrongful death claim. However, not all people can bring such a claim under Virginia law. Thus, it is important to know who can bring a wrongful death claim in Virginia.  In this article, we will discuss what constitutes a wrongful death and who can bring a claim. In doing so, we hope to provide you with valuable information as you work through the death of your loved one.  Losing a loved one is one of the most difficult experiences you will go through in life. But know that there are things you can do to help you recover.  The wrongful death lawyers at River Run Law want to help. Read on for more information about wrongful death claims in Virginia, and contact our team to see what we can do to help you recover.  What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?  Under Virginia law, a wrongful death occurs where someone’s death is caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of a person or corporation. Virginia law further states that a wrongful death claim is proper if the injured party would have been entitled to bring a personal injury action had he or she survived.  However, because the injured party has died, a wrongful death action provides a right of recovery and a way to hold accountable the party responsible for the death.  Now that you have an idea of what exactly a wrongful death action is, let’s go into more detail on who can bring a wrongful death claim in Virginia.  In Virginia, Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Claim? Only certain family members may benefit from a wrongful death claim on behalf of the deceased. Virginia law refers to these family members as “statutory beneficiaries” under Virginia wrongful death law.  Virginia Code section 8.01-53 details the family members who can benefit from a wrongful death claim and in what order they are permitted to do so. The statutory beneficiaries who may bring a wrongful death lawsuit include:  The surviving spouse of the deceased;  Any children or grandchildren of the deceased;  Surviving parents and siblings or any relatives who share the deceased’s household; and Any other surviving family member who is entitled to inherit the deceased’s estate under Virginia intestacy laws.  The surviving spouse has the first priority when it comes to filing a wrongful death lawsuit. However, if there is no surviving spouse, the next claim of right belongs to the child(ren) of the deceased. Then, if the decedent had no surviving spouse or children, the parents, siblings, and other surviving family members of the decedent hold the next claim of right to file a wrongful death suit. While these statutory beneficiaries are the ones who will recover compensation in a wrongful death action, Virginia law requires that the personal representative of the estate bring the lawsuit. The decedent will typically name their personal representative through his or her will. Alternatively, however, a judge can name a personal representative who will bring the lawsuit.  What Do I Need To Prove A Wrongful Death Claim? Code of Virginia section 8.01-50 addresses the requirements for filing a wrongful death claim in Virginia. Under Virginia wrongful death law, you must be able to prove that: A person died because of the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another; If the deceased had not died, they would have been entitled to bring a personal injury claim caused by another’s negligence; and The resulting death would not have happened but for the wrongful act or negligence of another party. These elements can often be difficult to prove. However, that does not mean recovery is impossible by any means. At River Run Law, we know what it takes to prove a wrongful death case, and we will fight to do just that.   What Can I Recover in a Virginia Wrongful Death Lawsuit One of the benefits of a Virginia wrongful death lawsuit is the ability to recover monetary compensation in the aftermath of losing your loved one. This compensation is referred to as your legal “damages.”  While no amount of compensation can bring your loved one back to you, these damages can be extremely helpful to you in recovering from their loss.   Examples of damages for which you can recover in a wrongful death action in Virginia include compensation for: Sorrow, mental anguish, and solace;  Loss of income of the decedent,  Loss of services, protection, care, and assistance provided by the decedent; Expenses for the care, treatment, and hospitalization of the decedent related to the injury that resulted in their death; and  Reasonable funeral expenses.  Additionally, in some cases you may be entitled to “punitive” damages. Virginia courts may award punitive damages in rare circumstances to account for willful, wanton, or reckless conduct that “evinces a conscious disregard for the safety of others.” Calculating the amount of damages you are entitled to in a wrongful death case can be extremely complicated. The total sum will often be determined by a number of factors that can be difficult to ascertain and prove.  If you have questions about how much you may be entitled to recover, contact an attorney to discuss your case in more detail. Consult A Virginia Wrongful Death Attorney Today If you have lost a family member at the hands of someone’s wrongful or negligent actions, it is time to fight for the justice your loved one deserves. A wrongful death lawyer can help you do just that.  An experienced Virginia wrongful death attorney can help you assess your claims, determine the strength of your case, and fight to hold the responsible party accountable and get you the compensation you need and deserve. To discuss your case with an experienced wrongful death attorney, contact River Run Law today. We offer a no-cost, no-obligation consultation to review your case and get you the legal assistance you need. You will never owe us any legal fees unless and […]

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Car Accident

How Long Do You Have to File a Car Accident Insurance Claim in Virginia?

Being involved in a car accident can be a traumatic and stressful experience. Between property damage, potential injuries, and all the commotion, dealing with the aftermath of a collision can be tough to process. Involving insurance and the claims process can further complicate matters.  If you have sustained personal injuries or property damage, you may need to file an insurance claim to get the compensation you need to recover. But a question many people have is, How long do I have to file a car accident insurance injury claim in Virginia?  We’ll answer this question and more in the article below. But if you have any questions at all about the car accident insurance claims process in Virginia, contact our car accident attorneys today. We can discuss your case with you and help you determine whether and how to file your car accident insurance claim.  Important Steps to Take After Your Virginia Car Accident After your Virginia car accident, it is important to take certain steps. Doing so can help protect you, your passengers, and your rights moving forward. Additionally, it can help improve your chances of getting the financial compensation you are entitled to.  If you or a loved one is involved in a car accident in Virginia, you should take the following steps as soon as practicable if you are able to do so:  Pull your vehicle over to the side of the road out of harm’s way; Check yourself and any passengers for injuries;  Call 911 and report your accident;  Get contact and insurance information of any other parties involved in the accident;  Report the accident to your own insurer; and  Contact a car accident attorney to see if there are any additional steps you should take moving forward.  Failure to take these steps can potentially cause further harm and reduce your rights. So make sure to take these steps as soon as possible after involvement in a car accident in Virginia.  Reporting Your Car Accident in Virginia Reporting your accident is an important step in the aftermath of a Virginia car accident. But when do you have to report your accident? And how do you do this?  When to Report Your Virginia Car Accident After your car accident, it is important that you report the incident to authorities as soon as practicable. In fact, this may be required depending on the facts and circumstances surrounding your accident.  The State of Virginia requires you to report your car accident to State police or local law enforcement within 24 hours if the accident results in any of the following: Injury,  Death, or  Property damage. As you might expect, the majority of car accidents involve one of these circumstances. Thus, it is crucial that you contact the police when you are involved in a car accident in Virginia.  How to File a Car Accident Report in Virginia If your accident meets one of the above criteria, you must report your accident. Such a report must include your:  Name,  Address,  Driver license number, and Vehicle registration number.  Providing this can make the exchange of information easier and can help to simplify the claims process moving forward.  Additionally, it is important to note which people you need to share the report with. The above information must be provided to:  The state police or local law enforcement agency investigating the accident; Any person struck or injured in the accident;  Any driver or occupant of another vehicle that was struck; and  The owner or custodian of any damaged property.  Failure to comply with Virginia post-accident laws can result in either a misdemeanor or even felony charge. Thus, it is imperative that you know and understand these requirements and take precautions to ensure that you comply.  How Long Do You Have to Report a Car Accident to Your Insurance? In addition to reporting your accident to local authorities, you should report it to your insurer. The precise length of time you have to do so will vary from insurer to insurer and policy to policy. However, you should make sure to report your accident as soon as possible. Many insurers will require you to report your accident soon after it happens, frequently within 30 days. But after you report your accident, you may also need to file a claim, which is another thing entirely. Make sure to do this as soon as possible too.  Some policies may set specific timeframes in which you must file a claim. Other policies may not set a timeframe at all. Thus, make sure to review your insurance policy to ensure that you follow the applicable timelines and requirements.  Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents in Virginia If you cannot resolve your claim with the opposing party or insurance company directly, you may need to consider bringing a lawsuit. But before filing your lawsuit, it is important to be aware of the statute of limitations for car accident claims in Virginia.  The statute of limitations gives you a certain amount of time following your accident to bring your lawsuit. Under Virginia law, the statute of limitations for bringing your claim or claims depends on the type of accident and extent of damage or injuries incurred.  If you are seeking compensation for injuries caused by the accident, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. On the other hand, if you are seeking compensation for damage to your vehicle resulting from the accident, you have five years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit.  If you have questions about whether and when you should file your claim, contact a Virginia accident attorney to discuss your case.  Consult a Virginia Car Accident Attorney Today The aftermath of a car accident can be a complicated and time-consuming process. But you don’t have to navigate this process alone. A Virginia car accident attorney can help you evaluate your claims, negotiate with insurers, and fight to recover the compensation you are entitled to. The personal injury […]

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