What Is a Wrongful Death Claim and Who Can File One?
Losing a loved one can cause enormous pain, especially when the loss is sudden and caused by someone else’s careless actions. Although money is no substitute for a family member’s love and support, the law allows you to collect compensation when an accident leads to the death of a cherished loved one.
What is a wrongful death claim? The legal team at Davies, Barrell, Will, Lewellyn & Edwards, PLC wants to help you understand the legal process and how to pursue compensation for the wrongful death of a loved one.
What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death lawsuit is similar to a personal injury lawsuit. When careless actions or a failure to act causes an accident, the at-fault individual may be held financially accountable for the other individual’s injuries and losses. In a personal injury lawsuit, you seek compensation for your injuries from the at-fault person or their insurer. However, in the case of a wrongful death lawsuit, the accident has caused a person’s death, and a representative of the deceased person’s estate must seek compensation on behalf of the deceased. At Davies, Barrell, Will, Lewellyn & Edwards, PLC, we help you through this process, thereby taking much of the burden off of you.
Virginia defines wrongful death as a death caused by another party’s neglect, default, or wrongful actions. Situations that may trigger a wrongful death lawsuit can include:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Intentional harm caused by violence
The Commonwealth allows two years from the date of the person’s death for a wrongful death lawsuit seeking compensation for financial losses to be filed. Cases filed after this deadline face dismissal, regardless of their merit. If that happens, you cannot make a recovery.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Virginia?
In many jurisdictions, surviving family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit for their deceased loved one. However, that is not the case in Virginia. In the Commonwealth, the personal representative of the deceased must file the wrongful death lawsuit. The personal representative is sometimes called an executor or administrator.
Typically, the deceased person’s will specifies an executor. This person is responsible for managing the individual’s estate after death. If no executor has been named, the court can appoint someone to serve as the deceased’s personal representative.
Although the personal representative is the only one who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Virginia, money recovered from a successful suit is distributed to the deceased individual’s statutory beneficiaries. Statutory beneficiaries typically include:
- Surviving spouse
- Children or grandchild
- Parents or other relatives who shared a household with the deceased
The value of wrongful death cases varies. Often, beneficiaries can recover money for the financial losses associated with their loved one’s death, such as:
- Funeral expenses
- Burial expenses
- Medical expenses related to the individual’s injuries before death
- Mental anguish
- Value of lost income and benefits
- Loss of the deceased’s services, care, comfort, and companionship
Family members whose loved one has died due to the negligence, actions, or omissions of another party should consult with an experienced Culpeper wrongful death attorney as soon as possible to learn more about their legal options.
Talk to a Compassionate Culpeper Wrongful Death Attorney
Losing a valued family member causes painful emotions that can be hard to cope with. During this challenging time, you need support more than ever. Discuss your situation with a sensitive Culpeper wrongful death attorney from Davies, Barrell, Will, Lewellyn & Edwards, PLC. We want to help you understand your legal options for recovering the compensation your family needs.
Arrange for a personalized legal consultation today. Contact or call our Culpeper office at (540) 825-6000.