The loss of a loved one can be a very difficult time. The challenges are amplified when your loved one was killed suddenly and tragically by the negligence of another. Whether it was a motor vehicle crash, defective product, dangerous property or medical malpractice, family members of the deceased have the right to file a civil action.
A wrongful death action can help hold a negligent party liable while also assisting with the recovery of compensation for damages suffered.
Wrongful death claim
The purpose of a wrongful death action is to recover losses and damages caused by the wrongful or negligent act of another, leading to the death of a loved one.
The family members can seek monetary damages for various losses and damages. These often include funeral and burial costs, medical expenses, loss of wages and future earning capacity and loss of companionship.
Often, when loved ones bring forth these actions, they will result in a settlement. This means that all parties involved have agreed to resolve the matter for a set monetary payout and will forego a trial.
If a settlement is not reached, the matter could move forward with a trial. While this would lengthen the process for the family members seeking compensation, a civil trial could result in a favorable monetary reward.
The laws of the state dictate who is allowed to bring forth a wrongful death action in that state. In Virginia, this action can be filed by one or more statutory beneficiaries. These include the decedent’s surviving spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, siblings, relatives that lived with the decedent or any individual that is entitled to inherit from the estate of the decedent.
For a wrongful death action in the District of Columbia, the personal representative of the decedent must file the action on behalf of a surviving spouse. If the decedent was not married or does not have a surviving spouse, then they may file on behalf of the decedent’s children, parents or siblings.
A wrongful death action can be challenging to navigate, especially when you are still coping with the loss. It can be difficult to take on more when you are already dealing with so much. You do not need to do this on your own, as a legal professional can help you understand your rights and options and how best to proceed with your interests in mind.