When you lose a loved one unexpectedly, you may have feelings of loss and uncertainty. For some, the loss of a family member may not only bring devastation but financial instability as well. Fortunately, a compassionate personal injury attorney can help surviving relatives file a wrongful death claim if their family member’s untimely passing was a result of negligent actions. To learn more about your legal options, contact a Henrico County wrongful death lawyer.
According to Virginia Code § 8.01-50, someone’s death is considered “wrongful” if it results from the wrongful actions, neglect, or default of another person. Viable wrongful death claims come from situations that could have resulted in a personal injury suit had the deceased person survived. In this kind of lawsuit, another person must file a claim on the deceased person’s behalf to recover damages. Accidental deaths often arise from car accidents, truck collisions, dangerous drugs or consumer products, medical malpractice, and motorcycle crashes, among others.
There is a limited amount of time in which a representative may file a wrongful death lawsuit. The statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim is two years from the date of death, with some notable exceptions.
If a family member of the deceased does not submit their case before this statutory deadline, the judge may dismiss their claim permanently. A seasoned Henrico County wrongful death attorney can work to meet any statute of limitations to preserve the representative’s eligibility for compensation.
According to Va Code § 8.01-53, only a statutory beneficiary of the deceased may file a wrongful death suit. This statute establishes that a statutory beneficiary is any relative or dependent of the decedent who is entitled to recover compensation from the wrongful death case. Some statutory beneficiaries may include:
There is a hierarchy that determines which of the statutory beneficiaries have the right to pursue a claim. A decedent’s spouse, children, and grandchildren have the first opportunity to file a claim. If there are no surviving spouses, children, or grandchildren, then a parent, sibling, or live-in dependent may then have the option to file a wrongful death lawsuit. If there are no qualifying relatives of the deceased, the right to file suit rests with any person who may inherit assets if the estate does not have a will.
Some additional exceptions apply, however. For example, a parent may not file a wrongful death suit for a child that they abandoned. A Henrico County lawyer with experience in wrongful death lawsuits could review someone’s case to determine if they have a legal right to file a claim on behalf of the deceased.
Unexpectedly losing a loved one because of someone’s negligence can leave you confused and unsure about your next steps. A caring Henrico County wrongful death lawyer can guide you through those next steps and handle all the details of your claim. When you are ready to seek justice for your loved one, schedule an initial consultation with an attorney.