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What Your Family Needs to Know About Wrongful Death Cases

You’ve recently lost a loved one in a Virginia accident. It may be an extraordinary effort to get through each day as you grieve, but there are things that you have to do. You have to work or attend school, and you have to take care of yourself and your family while you mourn. The thought of pursuing a wrongful death case may be overwhelming, but the reality of pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit doesn’t have to be complicated.

Wrongful Death Accidents

When someone else’s negligence causes an accident that results in your loved one’s death, then you may have a wrongful death case. These accidents may include, but are not limited to:

  • Car crashes
  • Motorcycle wrecks
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Truck crashes

A deadly crash can occur any time a driver is drowsy, drunk, distracted, or otherwise negligent.

In any wrongful death case, you will need to prove the defendant’s negligence by presenting evidence that:

The person who caused the accident owed your loved one a duty of care.

Drivers, property owners, and others owe people around them a duty of care.

The person who caused the accident breached the duty of care.

If the defendant failed to act as a reasonable person would act in similar circumstances, then the defendant has breached the duty of care.

The breach in the duty of care caused the accident that caused your loved one’s death.

The action, or inaction, which is the breach of the duty of care must have caused the accident that resulted in your loved one’s death.

You have a legal right to recover damages.

Since you were not the one who was physically hurt, you must have the right to pursue a claim according to Virginia law. This will be discussed further below.

Wrongful Death Information for Virginia Families

Generally, a wrongful death lawsuit may be filed if the person who died would have had a personal injury case had the person survived the accident. However, the specifics of how a wrongful death case works are different than how a personal injury case works. If your loved one died in a Virginia accident, then it’s essential to understand:

Who can file a wrongful death case.

In Virginia, the person who manages the decedent’s estate is the one who can bring a wrongful death lawsuit. If your loved one died with a will, then the will likely named an executor and the executor can file a wrongful death case. If your loved one died without a will, then the court will appoint an administrator of your loved one’s estate and the administrator may file a wrongful death case.

How long you have to file a wrongful death case.

The Virginia Statute of Limitations gives the executor or administrator two years to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The two years begins to run on the date your loved one died.

The damages that may be recovered in a wrongful death case.

Wrongful death damages may include compensation for medical expenses incurred because of the accident prior to death, funeral costs, lost income, loss of household help, emotional suffering due to the loss, and in some cases, punitive damages.

How wrongful death damages are distributed.

If the decedent had a spouse and kids, then the surviving spouse, surviving children, children of any deceased children, and parents who were financially supported by the decedent within the last 12 months share the wrongful death damages. If the decedent did not have a spouse, kids, or dependent parents, then the parents, siblings, and other relatives who were part of the decedent’s household and financially dependent on the decedent may share the wrongful death damages. If the decedent was married but had no children, the spouse and parents may share the wrongful death damages. Finally, if none of these situations applied to the decedent, then the damages will be distributed according to the remaining sections of Virginia Code Section 8.01-53.

Has Your Loved One Died Due To The Negligence Of Others? Do You Need To Speak With A Wrongful Death Attorney?

If your loved one has died due to someone else's negligence you need to speak with an experienced wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Fairfax, Virginia personal injury law office at 703.277.2811 to schedule your free consultation. We help clients throughout Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia and look forward to helping you.