A loved one’s sudden death can be shocking, to say the least. It doesn’t get any better if the death in question could have been prevented. If a loved one loses their life due to another person or entity’s negligence, you may hold the liable party to account through a wrongful death claim.
But while a loved one’s untimely death can impact many people, the law restricts who can actually bring a claim. If you are considering suing the liable party, you need to understand how the state’s wrongful death laws work.
Understanding a wrongful death claim
Death is deemed wrongful when it is occasioned by another person or entity’s negligence or wrongful act. In other words, were the deceased to survive their injuries, they would have pursued a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant.
Filing a wrongful death claim
In Virginia, the decedent’s estate representative may bring a wrongful death on behalf of the deceased’s beneficiaries. These may include the deceased’s surviving spouse, children or grandchildren, surviving parents or any other relative who directly depended on the deceased. This claim must be brought within two years from the date of death.
Recoverable damages in a wrongful death claim
Of course, no amount of compensation can bring a loved one back to life. However, these damages can help a grieving family bring closure to the matter and take care of the expenses that resulted from a loved one’s preventable death. Some of the damages you may recover in a wrongful death claim include:
- Loss of income
- Reasonable funeral and internment expenses
- Mental anguish and loss of companionship
- Medical expenses related to the injury if the deceased spent time in hospital before passing on
In certain instances, punitive damages may be awarded. This is especially true if the defendant’s actions were reckless and in total disregard for public safety.
If you have lost a loved one due to another person’s unlawful actions, you need the negligent party accountable. Understanding the state’s wrongful death and negligence laws would be a great place to begin your quest for justice.