Wrongful death is a term that may be applied to the death of a person due to someone else’s negligence or misconduct. Wrongful death is a type of civil case that may even be made alongside a criminal case if the death was due to criminal misconduct (like drunk driving). To win a wrongful death suit, you don’t need to prove that the person or entity at fault was guilty of murder or manslaughter.
The purpose of a wrongful death lawsuit is for loved ones to recoup expenses for things like medical care and funeral expenses. These expenses are something that loved ones would not have had to pay for had the person or entity not been negligent or intentionally harmed the individual.
While a wrongful death lawsuit does not bring back your loved one, it can help offset the expenses you’re facing and aid you in seeking restitution on behalf of your loved one.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death
Some common causes of wrongful death include:
- Car accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Truck accidents
- Train accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Product liability
- Airplane accidents
- Animal attacks
- Workplace accidents
- Criminal activity
Who Can File for Wrongful Death in Virginia?
Virginia law clearly outlines who can file a wrongful death lawsuit. To be eligible, you must fall under one of the following categories:
- A spouse or child of the deceased. These individuals get priority when it comes to eligible family members who can file a lawsuit.
- If the deceased does not have a living spouse, children or grandchildren, then parents and siblings or other family members that lived with the deceased and were dependent on the individual can file the lawsuit.
- When no dependents or household family members exist for the deceased, the individuals who inherit the deceased’s estate upon their passing have a right to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit.
When Could a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Apply?
There are three scenarios when a wrongful death lawsuit could apply and provide valid grounds for loved ones to bring a lawsuit.
- When another person or entity intentionally kills another person. In this case, there are generally also murder or manslaughter charges against the at-fault party. This happens during an assault and can be premeditated or impulsive.
- When medical malpractice leads to the death of an individual. Doctors who fail to diagnose a patient or fail to provide the standard of care that other individuals would provide in the same scenario and the patient dies as a result could qualify as a wrongful death lawsuit. The doctor or medical center in question could be the party that the family sues.
- Other scenarios that often involve negligence – like a car accident. Car accidents are one of the more common personal injury causes that can lead to the death of another driver. Additional scenarios include things like workplace injuries or defective products that the manufacturer should have prevented from making it to consumers.
How to Prove a Wrongful Death
To prove wrongful death, eligible family members must meet the burden of proof to demonstrate that their loved one would have lived had the at-fault individual or entity acted differently.
Most cases will involve proving negligence, which proves that the defendant had a duty of care toward your loved one, failed to meet that duty of care, and that the failed duty of care directly caused your loved one’s injuries and death.
Free Consultation With a Compassionate Lawyer
Working with an attorney to prove wrongful death is essential. Whether you’re working with medical malpractice laws and procedures or the complications of proving the at-fault party in workplace accidents where many contractors are on-site on any given day, your case will have a far greater chance of success if you hire an experienced attorney.
Geoff McDonald & Associates offers a superb legal team for wrongful death cases to support a victim’s family after suffering the pain of a lost loved one. Contact us now to schedule your free consultation.