An Overview of Wrongful Death Claims in Virginia

  • Posted on: Aug 9 2018
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A wrongful death is a death caused by the wrongful act of another party. Generally speaking, the circumstances leading to the death must be of a nature that would have supported a personal injury lawsuit if the deceased individual had survived. Wrongful death lawsuits allow certain individuals defined by statute (statutory beneficiaries) to file claims on behalf of deceased persons. Below is an overview of wrongful death claims in Virginia.

Who May File a Wrongful Death Claim?

As noted above, Virginia requires wrongful death claims to be filed by statutory beneficiaries. Statutory beneficiaries may include:

  • Living siblings and parents of the deceased individual;
  • Any relative in the deceased individual’s household who is also a dependent of the deceased individual;
  • The living spouse, children, or grandchildren of the deceased individual; and
  • Any living family member who is entitled to inherit the deceased individual’s estate under Virginia’s intestacy laws.

When Must a Wrongful Death Claim Be Filed?

In Virginia, wrongful death claims must be filed within two years of a person’s death. If such a claim is not filed within this time period, then the case may no longer be heard in court.

Damages Available in Wrong Death Cases

Depending on the circumstances of the case, damages may be available to compensate a deceased individual’s family and estate for losses. Damages in a wrongful death claim in Virginia may include:

  • The value of lost benefits and wages, including benefits and wages that the deceased individual might have been expected to earn if he or she had survived the event;
  • Medical costs and expenses related to the deceased individual’s injury or illness;
  • Burial and funeral expenses;
  • Mental anguish and sorrow;
  • Loss of comfort, care, guidance, society, companionship, and advice from the deceased individual; and
  • Punitive damages.

While most of the types of damages available in wrongful death cases are intended to compensate a deceased individual’s estate or surviving family members for their losses, punitive damages serve a different purpose. Punitive damages are not intended to compensate for losses. Rather, punitive damages punish reckless or willful bad conduct that demonstrates a conscious disregard for the safety of others. In other words, while the aforementioned types of damages are intended only to compensate statutory beneficiaries, punitive damages are intended to compensate statutory beneficiaries and punish the individual who caused the death.

Virginia Personal Injury Attorneys

At Walker Jones, PC, our experienced Virginia personal injury attorneys are dedicated to helping those who have been injured receive compensation for their injuries. Our Virginia injury lawyers work tirelessly for our clients, guiding them through the legal system while ensuring that they receive the most effective representation possible. In addition, our clients pay us no fees for our efforts unless their claims are successful. If you or a loved one has been injured, please allow us help you. Fill out or online contact form or call our office today for a free consultation.

Posted in: Personal Injury