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 the Virginia wrongful death 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 personal injury attorney.
How to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Virginia
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.
- 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.
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 the 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 prevent survivors from recovering damages, so it’s essential to file quickly.
Consult an Experienced Virginia Wrongful Death Attorney Today
You don’t have to go through it alone if you have lost a loved one due to a preventable accident. 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 with one of our wrongful death lawyers, please call 804-993-9233 or contact us online now. We proudly serve clients throughout the state of Virginia from our practice in Richmond.