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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 Virginia wrongful death claim. 

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. 

Who Can File 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 file 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 Virginia 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 lawyer, 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 until we recover compensation on your behalf. So don’t wait—contact our team today for your free consultation, and see how we can help you.

Where You Can Find Our Richmond, Virginia Office
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Casey Ariail

Casey is a founding partner at River Run Law Group. Casey has tried numerous cases across the Commonwealth in both General District Court and Circuit Court. He has earned millions of dollars for his clients through trials, mediations, and settlements.