The individual named as the executor or administrator of the deceased’s estate plan or will has the right to sue for wrongful death in Virginia. But if the deceased did not have an estate plan at the time of their passing, the court can appoint an administrator to fulfill this role.
First, you have to understand what constitutes wrongful death. Virginia law § 8.01-50 outlines that wrongful death occurs when someone or a company is neglectful and causes a death that would not have otherwise taken place.
A personal representative can file a wrongful death lawsuit within two years of the date the individual passed away. It’s important to note that the statute of limitations does not begin from the date of the incident or injury, but from the date that the person passes away.
Damages You Can Pursue in a Virginia Wrongful Death Case
When filing for wrongful death, you should know what damages you can pursue. That way, you can include all relevant bills and information in your court filing. Here’s a look at the damages you can pursue with a wrongful death case.
- Mental anguish
- Loss of comfort, guidance, advice, and companionship from the deceased
- Wages the individual would have earned had he or she lived
- Loss of the loved one’s protection, assistance, and care.
- Medical expenses prior to death related to the individual’s injuries sustained as a result of the other party’s negligence
- Reasonable funeral and burial expenses
In some extreme cases, the courts might award punitive damages as well. These are designed to deter future bad behavior from the at-fault party and make an example out of them to avoid such actions in the future by others.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death
Tragically, some organizations and individuals don’t consider the well-being of others like they should. As a result, wrongful death is more common than it should be. Some common causes of wrongful death include:
- Car accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Workplace accidents
- Defective products
- Truck accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Aviation accidents
- Premise liability accidents
- Accidental poisoning and overdoses
- Drowning or boating accidents
However, just because someone is involved in a car accident and passes away doesn’t mean that their death is wrongful. There must be another party that was negligent that led to the person’s death.
For example, some individuals lose their lives in a one-car accident, meaning they drove off the road and there was nothing wrong with their vehicle that caused such an accident.
The same can be true for individuals who lose their lives when they are undergoing surgery or a procedure. Sometimes it is not the fault of the doctor or medical facility but just that they could not save that person.
Determining Whether a Loved One’s Passing Was Wrongful Death
The grief of losing a loved one is overwhelming, but it can be even more challenging if you believe your loved one lost their life to the negligence of someone else. Determining whether the passing of a loved one constitutes wrongful death is not particularly easy. It requires some investigation into the situation to better understand whether their death could have been avoided.
If you’re unsure whether your loved one might be the victim of wrongful death, you should get in contact with a Virginia wrongful death attorney. Your attorney will review the case details.
Contact Geoff McDonald today for a free consultation and case evaluation.