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Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Wrongful Death is defined as a death caused, in an immediate or delayed manner, by the negligence or misconduct of an individual, group of individuals, company or organization.
When a family member or loved one dies, the complexities of a legal claim against the party or parties responsible can be overwhelming. At this already stressful and emotional time, the best course of action is to seek the guidance of a personal injury lawyer with experience in wrongful death suit and wrongful death cases. At Parrish Law Firm, PLLC, our attorneys work to guide the surviving family members through the complex legalities to help obtain the maximum possible compensation for their loss.
Some of the types of damages suffered by parents, spouses, and children of a deceased person include:
- Grief and anguish
- Loss of consortium (“trauma to the marital relationship”)
- Loss of income, services, protection, care and assistance provided by the deceased
- Funeral expenses
- Medical bills
- Punitive damages may be recovered for willful or reckless conduct
Whatever the cause of your loved one’s death, we understand the difficulties you face and the grief that you are experiencing. And as your wrongful death attorney, we will work to handle the legal end of things so that you and your family focus on dealing with your grief and start healing. You can rest assured that we will remain committed to obtaining the compensation you deserve.
In many injury and wrongful death litigation, economists are commonly asked to place a dollar value on the economic losses that were sustained by the plaintiff(s) or family of the deceased. Economists evaluate not only the economic losses stemming from the loss of earnings, but also those resulting from the reductions in their ability to perform non-labor market services such as taking care of their households. If allowed by the particular court, the mathematics and statistics-based models used by economists can also be used to assist the court in the valuation of issues involving the loss of enjoyment or the loss of life… Read more about how Virginia personal injury/wrongful death lawyers use economists to maximize the amount of compensation received by families who have lost a loved one.
The Virginia Wrongful Death Act, set forth in Virginia Code 8.01-50:
§ 8.01-50. Action for death by wrongful act; how and when to be brought.
A. Whenever the death of a person shall be caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of any person or corporation, or of any ship or vessel, and the act, neglect, or default is such as would, if death had not ensued, have entitled the party injured to maintain an action, or to proceed in rem against such ship or vessel or in personam against the owners thereof or those having control of her, and to recover damages in respect thereof, then, and in every such case, the person who, or corporation or ship or vessel which, would have been liable, if death had not ensued, shall be liable to an action for damages, or, if a ship or vessel, to a libel in rem, and her owners or those responsible for her acts or defaults or negligence to a libel in personam, notwithstanding the death of the person injured, and although the death shall have been caused under such circumstances, as amount in law to a felony.
B. Every such action under this section shall be brought by and in the name of the personal representative of such deceased person within the time limits specified in § 8.01-244.
C. If the deceased person was an infant who was in the custody of a parent pursuant to an order of court or written agreement with the other parent, administration shall be granted first to the parent having custody; however, that parent may waive his right to qualify in favor of any other person designated by him. If no such parent or his designee applies for administration within thirty days from the death of the infant, administration shall be granted as in other cases.
The Virginia Code also specifically defines the types of damages, which can be recovered in a Wrongful Death action:
§ 8.01-52. Amount of damages.
The jury or the court, as the case may be, in any such action under § 8.01-50 may award such damages as to it may seem fair and just. The verdict or judgment of the court trying the case without a jury shall include, but may not be limited to, damages for the following:
- Sorrow, mental anguish, and solace which may include society, companionship, comfort, guidance, kindly offices and advice of the decedent;
- Compensation for reasonably expected loss of (i) income of the decedent and (ii) services, protection, care and assistance provided by the decedent;
- Expenses for the care, treatment and hospitalization of the decedent incident to the injury resulting in death;
- Reasonable funeral expenses; and
- Punitive damages may be recovered for willful or wanton conduct, or such recklessness as evinces a conscious disregard for the safety of others.
Damages recoverable under 3, 4 and 5 above shall be specifically stated by the jury or the court, as the case may be. Damages recoverable under 3 and 4 above shall be apportioned among the creditors who rendered such services, as their respective interests may appear. Competent expert testimony shall be admissible in proving damages recoverable under 2 above.
The court shall apportion the costs of the action as it shall deem proper.
What if a loved one is killed in an accident that is not their fault?
Wrongful Death Links
- How to Deal With Grief
- Center for Medical Consumers
- American Cancer Society – Patient’s Bill of Rights
- PBS – Dealing with Death
- Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations