Contact our firm now online or by phone at (828) 414-8614 to schedule a free case evaluation with our Tuckahoe wrongful death attorneys.

Losing a loved one is never easy, especially when they die unexpectedly due to the wrongful or negligent acts of someone else. In Virginia, the personal representative of the decedent’s estate can file a wrongful death lawsuit to recover compensation from the at-fault party on behalf of the decedent’s beneficiaries. 

Losing a member of the family can leave you unable to pay your bills, riddled with funeral costs, and emotionally devastated. A wrongful death settlement will not bring your loved one back. However, it can help your family cope financially with their loss.

We will not rest until you secure the compensation you deserve. Contact River Run Law today to talk to our Tuckahoe wrongful death attorneys about your case.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Virginia?

In Virginia, only the personal representative of the decedent’s estate can file a wrongful death action. The decedent, or person who died, can name their personal representative in their will if they have one.

The person appointed by will is called an executor. The court will appoint an administrator if the decedent dies without a will. The personal representative files the lawsuit on behalf of the statutory beneficiaries such as:

  • Children,
  • Spouses, and
  • Grandchildren whose parents are deceased.

The decedent’s parents may qualify as statutory beneficiaries if, within the past twelve months, they “regularly received support or services from the decedent for necessaries, including living expenses, food, shelter, health care expenses, or in-home assistance or care.”

If the decedent lacks a surviving spouse or surviving descendants, their parents and siblings are considered statutory beneficiaries. 

How Do Wrongful Deaths Occur?

Wrongful death can happen in almost any situation where someone commits a wrongful or negligent act that causes another person’s death.

Car accidents are a significant contributor to wrongful deaths. In 2022, 1,005 people died in 942 Virginia car accidents. In Virginia, car accidents result in approximately 2.8 deaths per day. Some of the other leading causes of wrongful death include:

  • Boating accidents,
  • Commercial truck accidents,
  • Pedestrian accidents, 
  • Defective product accidents,
  • Workplace accidents,
  • Bicycle accidents, and 
  • Premises liability cases.

Even though a wrongful death lawsuit cannot bring your loved one back, it can provide surviving loved ones with financial support to get back on their feet after such a devastating loss.

Wrongful deaths occur in a variety of different scenarios. If you lost your loved one and someone else is responsible, do not hesitate to contact a wrongful death attorney.

What Is Considered a Wrongful Death?

Not every fatality is considered a wrongful death. Wrongful death is a legal term that refers to a fatality caused by the negligence or misconduct of another person. The elements of a wrongful death include:

  • The death of your loved one;
  • Caused by the wrongful or negligent act of another; and
  • The surviving family members have suffered financial losses as a result of their loved one’s death. 

Many wrongful death cases depend on proving that the defendant was negligent. Proof of negligence requires the following elements:

  • The at-fault party owed a duty of care to the decedent;
  • They breached that duty of care by failing to act as a reasonable person would in the same or similar circumstances;
  • The breach led to the accident and injuries that caused the decedent’s death; and
  • The death resulted in losses to the decedent’s beneficiaries.

Sometimes these elements are relatively easy to prove. For example, a commercial truck driver owes other drivers on the road a duty to operate and maintain it in a reasonably safe manner. A truck driver can breach their duty of care by violating traffic laws or ignoring truck driving regulations.

How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim?

The statute of limitations is the time during which you can file a lawsuit against the responsible party for the loss of your loved one. Wrongful death claims in Virginia are subject to a two-year statute of limitations.

The two-year clock starts ticking on the date of your loved one’s death. If your loved one is injured, causing them to fall into a coma and eventually die two weeks later, the statutory period begins when your loved one dies, not when the injury occurred.

If you try to file a claim after the statute of limitations expires, the judge will likely dismiss your lawsuit.

Determining the Value of a Wrongful Death Claim

You still need to prove that you suffered damages as a result of the loss of your loved one. These damages can include:

  • Funeral costs;
  • Loss of future financial support;
  • Loss of inheritance;
  • The estimated amount of income and benefits the decedent would have earned in their lifetime;
  • The value of household services like cleaning, childcare, or landscaping;
  • Loss of companionship;
  • Loss of guidance; and
  • Loss of love and support.

Some of these calculations require extensive analysis to determine an accurate value. The value of each wrongful death claim varies based on the circumstances of the case.

A decedent who earns a larger salary would have provided a larger monetary contribution to their family than a decedent who earned minimum wage. Alternatively, a surviving loved one may not recover for the love and support of the decedent if they lacked a relationship with them before they died.

A wrongful death lawyer can compile invoices and paystubs to calculate the approximate value of your claim. We can also hire economic experts to calculate the value of noneconomic losses like the loss of companionship. Contact River Run Law today so we can start reviewing your case. 

See What Our Clients Have to Say

Our team has the knowledge and experience to secure a favorable outcome in a wrongful death case, but you do not have to take our word for it. Take a look at some reviews left by former clients.

I had a great experience with River Run Law. When other firms didn’t want to take my case, River Run didn’t hesitate. Thank you Brooke, Paloma and all other associates whom took the time out to help settle my case. I highly recommend this law firm, they were timely, responsive, and professional. – Tamara

I will recommend River Run Law firm with confidence. Everyone was welcoming and mindful of my needs along with full service. The attorney was accessible and transparent. They worked really fast and got results for me in a timely manner. – Alex

Extremely impressed with the folks over at River Run Law (specifically Brooke). She is extremely resourceful, responsive and puts in the extra effort to find resolution. Highly recommend you give them a call if you find yourself in need of an attorney. – David

A team member will walk you through how to file a wrongful death claim and distribute proceeds appropriately once your case concludes. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment with our wrongful death lawyers in Tuckahoe. We look forward to hearing from you.