Virginia Beach Wrongful Death Attorney

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From Senior Personal Injury Attorney Scott R. Barney, ESQ. in Hampton Roads Virginia.

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One of the worst experiences in life is dealing with the loss of loved one. When another person’s negligence or wrongdoing caused the death of your loved one, it can make the loss even more difficult to handle. However, you may have the right to receive both compensation and closure by filing a wrongful lawsuit.

Although wrongful death can happen in numerous ways, some of the more frequent causes include:

  • Medical malpractice or negligence
  • Automobile accidents
  • Workplace accidents
  • Defective or dangerous medicine or products
  • Exposure to toxic substances
  • Nursing home abuse or neglect

What is a Wrongful Death?

In the State of Virginia, state statute controls wrongful death lawsuits. The term ‘wrongful death’ under Virginia Code section 8.01-50, is a death “caused by the wrongful act, neglect or default” of another party. Basically, a wrongful death is a death that has resulted from the misconduct or negligence of another person.

Civil suits by surviving family members of the deceased individual are referred to as wrongful death claims. These claims were created to make compensation, in the form of monetary damages, available to relatives that may have depended on the financial and/or emotional assistance of the deceased.

Essentially, wrongful death lawsuits can be considered a personal injury suit that the statutory beneficiaries file because the deceased person is unable to bring about his or her own claim.  

Key Elements of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

When the negligence, recklessness, illegal or deliberate behavior of another causes a death, it creates the first element.

Negligence regards an individual’s failure to act in a manner that a reasonably prudent individual would have behaved in a similar situation.

In order to demonstrate negligence, a lawyer must show that the individual had a duty of care to the person who was killed. 

That individual’s act or failure to act breached the standard of care, and the decedent’s injuries or death were directly or proximately caused by that individual’s wrongful actions. 

Lastly, it should be demonstrated that damages resulted from the death.

Who is Allowed to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Under Virginia Law?

Statutory beneficiaries are dependents or family members of the deceased who may file and recover in a wrongful death lawsuit. Statutory beneficiaries may include:

  • The surviving spouse
  • Children or grandchildren of the decedent
  • Surviving parents of the decedent
  • The decedent’s siblings
  • Any relative that shared the decedent’s household and is a dependent
  • Surviving family members that under Virginia’s intestacy laws, are entitled to inherit the    decedent’s estate.

It is important to note that the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit goes in a distinct order. The initial right to file the lawsuit is given to surviving spouses, children, and grandchildren.

If none of the above exist, the surviving parents, siblings, and relatives dependent on the decedent for support and are also a member of the same household have the right to bring a suit. In cases in which the decedent has no children or grandchildren, the compensation can be distributed to both the surviving spouse and parents.

However, if the decedent’s parents abandoned him or her during childhood, they would be barred from filing a wrongful death lawsuit and recovering any damages.

If none of the above family members exist, the right to bring a suit is granted to the person who would be in line to inherit the estate next. For this purpose, anyone related to the deceased person through blood, marriage, or adoption could be considered. Stepchild of the deceased are also included.

The class and statutory beneficiaries eligible to receive compensation are established when the jury enters the verdict or when the judgment is bestowed in situations where the court specifies distribution.

What Damages are Available in a Wrongful Death Suit?

Although a lawsuit and damages received will not bring your deceased loved one back from the dead, it can assist with recovery for family members and loved ones. A sense of justice being served can help everyone move on with their lives.

The main purpose of the wrongful death lawsuit is to compensate family members as well as the estate for all of the losses incurred. Damages resulting from a wrongful death lawsuit, can be for monetary and/or non-monetary damages, often including:

  • Money for both lost wages and other work-related benefits, which includes future earnings if the decedent had survived..
  • Medical expenses, such as hospital bills, connected to the decedent’s injuries or illness.
  • Loss of the decedent’s care, companionship, guidance and/or comfort.
  • Damages for grief, sadness and/or suffering.
  • Funeral and other burial related costs.

Calculating damages in a wrongful death lawsuit is an exceptionally complex task and typically requires the assistance of a forensic economist or other expert witnesses.

Additionally, punitive damages may be available. Punitive damages are meant to punish deliberate bad conduct, or when the wrongful party demonstrated extreme recklessness that disregarded the safety of others.

Punitive damages are also intended to discourage others from acting in a similar matter.

Statute of Limitations for Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

According to Virginia law, a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed no more than two years from the date that the decedent died. If the statutory beneficiaries fail to file the lawsuit within that two-year time period, the statute of limitations bars the case from going to court.  

However, there are a few limited exceptions to the statute of limitations. For instance, if the statutory beneficiary was under disability at the time the two years passed. Or in cases in which the negligence is concealed by the negligent party.

Getting the Help of an Experienced Attorney

At Barney Injury Law, Scott R. Barney, Esq. represents clients whose family members and/or loved ones have died as a result of someone else’s negligence. A wrongful death lawsuit can be an extremely complicated undertaking, which you should not have to go through on your own.

Our Virginia Beach personal injury law firm sympathizes with your loss and the grief and sadness you are enduring. Consulting with an experienced wrongful death attorney can help you determine your next course of action.

Scott. R. Barney, Esq., is a highly skilled, aggressive and dedicated lawyer who is passionate about serving clients when they need him the most. He will personally guide you every step of the way through your wrongful death lawsuit.  

Retain the legal assistance, for your wrongful death lawsuit, that you deserve now. Our superior legal representation will assist you make the most out of your wrongful death action. To speak with an attorney and have a free consultation, contact us online or call 757-965-7200.

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