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When you lose a loved one unexpectedly, it’s often difficult to think about what to do next. In many cases, families may not know that Virginia law entitles them to seek compensation if another person’s negligence caused the death.

Here are some tips on how to file a wrongful death lawsuit and the recovery available for family members.

If you have lost a loved one due to the negligence of another, you should get in touch with an attorney. Contact the experienced Virginia wrongful death lawyers at River Run Law today to learn how our team can help you.

How to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Figuring out how to file a wrongful death lawsuit on your own is stressful, especially if you haven’t filed a case before. Here are some steps that will help put you and your family on the path toward recovery. 

If you have questions about bringing forth a wrongful death lawsuit in Virginia, our wrongful death attorneys are ready to assist you.

Determine the Order of Succession

The first step in filing a wrongful death lawsuit is to identify the executor of the estate of the deceased. Under Virginia Code § 8.01-50, only the executor or legal personal representative of the deceased may bring the lawsuit.

However, the order of succession determines who may be named a beneficiary in the lawsuit. For example, § 8.01-53 awards damages to the following beneficiaries:

  • The surviving spouse, children, and grandchildren of the deceased;
  • If there is no surviving spouse, child, etc., the surviving parents and siblings of the deceased; or
  • Any surviving family member if none of the above people are alive.

Virginia also considers any person related to the deceased by blood, marriage, or adoption to be a family member. This means that stepchildren or adoptive children of the deceased may be beneficiaries as well.

If you have been involved in a car accident in Virginia, we invite you to call our attorneys at (804) 889-0500.

Collect Evidence of Your Damages

Under § 8.01-52, the court may award a variety of economic and non-economic damages depending on the circumstances. This includes:

  • Mental anguish and sorrow
  • Loss of society, companionship, comfort, and guidance
  • Loss of the deceased’s income, services, protection, and care
  • Medical expenses relating to the injury which caused death
  • Funeral expenses

In rare cases, the court may also apply punitive damages if the defendant acted in an especially reckless way. The goal of punitive damages is to punish the defendant for willful or wanton conduct.

They don’t compensate for any specific loss incurred by the claimant or the beneficiaries.

File Your Case in a Timely Manner

If you decide to file a wrongful death lawsuit, it’s best to do it as soon as possible.

Virginia, much like other states, has a statute of limitations for filing a claim. This statute limits the amount of time claimants have to file before the court refuses to hear the case.

According to § 8.01-244, the personal representative must file within two years after the deceased’s death.

Failing to file a claim within this time period may bar any survivors from recovering damages, so it’s important to file quickly.

Consult an Experienced Virginia Wrongful Death Attorney Today

If you have lost a loved one due to a preventable accident, you don’t have to go through it alone. The team at River Run Law knows how devastating a wrongful death can be for the surviving family.

We’re here to answer any questions you have about the process and fight for the justice you deserve. 

To schedule a consultation, please call 804-993-9233 or contact us online now. We proudly serve clients throughout the state of Virginia from our practice in Richmond.

Author Photo

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.

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