Losing a loved one is never easy, but your grief and financial difficulties are even more difficult to overcome when their death was due to another person’s negligence or intentional act. In this challenging time, consider hiring a wrongful death lawyer. They can take care of the legalities and pursue compensation on your behalf while you and your family focus on supporting each other.
What Qualifies as a Wrongful Death in Virginia?
A wrongful death is a death that happens due to the negligence, carelessness, recklessness, or wrongful act of another person or entity. The death may occur immediately or at a later date due to injuries or illness.
Common causes of wrongful death include:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Defective products
- Unsafe workplace or business premises
Are You Eligible to Seek Compensation for the Death of Your Loved One?
In Virginia, the personal representative of your loved one’s estate can bring a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the surviving heirs. Usually, the deceased would have named a personal representative in their will. If not, the state will appoint a representative.
You and your family members can seek compensation through a wrongful death claim in the following order:
- The deceased’s spouse, children (including adopted and stepchildren), or grandchildren
- The deceased’s parents and siblings or any dependent relative who lived in the same household as the deceased
- Family members eligible to inherit the deceased’s estate under Virginia state law
In any case, the personal representative only has two years after your loved one’s death to take legal action.
What Damages Are Available in Wrongful Death Claims?
You may be able to claim both economic and non-economic damages, including:
- Medical expenses your loved one incurred due to the accident
- Funeral and final expenses
- Pain and suffering
- The loss of your loved one’s income and services
- Your mental anguish for the loss of your loved one’s companionship
- Punitive damages to punish the wrongdoer in cases of egregious or intentional behavior
Calculating wrongful death damages is more complicated than evaluating regular personal injury claims and often requires hiring a forensic economist. You may need to calculate your loved one’s projected lifetime income, additional benefits such as insurance, and the value of the services they would have contributed to the household. It’s also necessary to adjust these amounts to reflect inflation and other economic variables.
If you try to do these calculations on your own, you risk undervaluing your claim. An attorney experienced with wrongful death claims is helpful to have on your side.
Why You Should Hire a Wrongful Death Lawyer
An experienced wrongful death lawyer provides you and your family with invaluable support during this difficult time. Some of the services they offer include:
- Reviewing your case and advising whether you have a viable claim
- Determining all potential beneficiaries and liable parties
- Evaluating your claim and calculating all damages with the help of a forensic economist, if necessary
- Preparing and filing your claim and all other paperwork
- Communicating and negotiating with any other parties on your behalf, including the at-fault party, insurance companies, journalists, and opposing counsel
Crucially, your wrongful death attorney can take care of all legal formalities to ease the burden of your loss and enable you and your family to focus on the grieving process.
Have You Lost a Loved One in an Accident? Consult with a Virginia Wrongful Death Attorney Today
No amount of money can make up for the loss of your family member. At Geoff McDonald & Associates, we can ensure that you don’t suffer undue financial hardship in addition to your grief. Call us at 804-888-8888 or contact us online now to schedule your free consultation with a wrongful death lawyer.