When you lose a loved one because of another person’s reckless conduct or negligence, you could be entitled to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf. A Chesterfield County wrongful death lawyer could help the decedent’s eligible surviving family members file a claim for damages to hold the liable parties accountable. A sympathetic personal injury attorney could help families learn more about their legal options and discuss the best way forward.
Under Virginia Code § 8.01-50, wrongful death is defined as a death caused by someone’s wrongful act, default, or neglect. The circumstances surrounding the death must be such that the decedent could have filed a personal injury claim had they survived.
Essentially, a wrongful death claim is a personal injury claim when the injured party is unable to present their own case. Instead, one or more members of their surviving family must file a lawsuit on their behalf.
Virginia law establishes a two-year deadline for filing a wrongful death lawsuit. If the decedent’s statutory beneficiaries do not submit the claim within two years, the court could refuse to hear their case.
A Chesterfield County attorney could help the following statutory beneficiaries pursue damages in a wrongful death claim:
The decedent’s surviving spouse, children, and grandchildren have the primary right to file a claim. When there is no surviving spouse, children, or grandchildren, the deceased’s surviving parents, siblings, and dependents are permitted to file. Finally, if the victim did not leave any parents, siblings, or dependents, the right to file a claim belongs to whoever would inherit the decedent’s estate.
If the decedent left a spouse or parents, but no children, the spouse and parent(s) may file a claim together. Parents found to have abandoned the deceased during their childhood are not permitted to file a wrongful death lawsuit or recover damages in such a claim.
Most of the damages available in a Chesterfield County wrongful death claim are designed to either compensate the decedent’s estate for losses associated with their death or to compensate the surviving family. Recoverable damages in a wrongful death claim could include compensation for:
In the case of particularly egregious, reckless, or wanton conduct on the defendant’s part, the court may award the plaintiff(s) punitive damages in addition to other types of compensation. Punitive damages punish the at-fault party for their negligent behavior that showed a blatant disregard for the safety of others.
If you are contemplating a wrongful death lawsuit or would like to learn more about what legal recourse you may have, you might consider speaking with an experienced Chesterfield County wrongful death lawyer. Call the office to arrange an initial case consultation and find out what could be possible in your case.