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The Pendleton Law Team wishes to extend our deepest condolences to the surviving loved ones of anyone who passes unexpectedly. We know that your lives are forever changed and that while no amount of compensation can undo the harm, our wrongful death lawyers who serve Hanover County are here to mitigate the challenging tasks and legal processes as you heal. 

To our law firm, your case is not just another client, it’s an opportunity for our personal injury lawyers near Hanover County to seek justice and provide relief. Wrongful death lawsuit regulations may vary by jurisdiction, so it benefits you to have us managing your case. 

Learn what constitutes a wrongful death case, how our lawyers help you obtain compensation, and essential tips you should know prior to filing.

Wrongful Death Legal Definition and Common Causes

Wrongful Death refers to a legal claim that arises when an individual is killed as a result of another person’s or entity’s negligence or misconduct. This claim can be pursued in a civil lawsuit by the executor of the deceased person’s estate. To verify if the death of your loved one qualifies for a wrongful death suit, it must have the following elements:

Legal Obligation

The responsible party is required to have had a duty of care towards the deceased individual, signifying a legal obligation to act reasonably and responsibly in safeguarding the safety and welfare of others. For example, a doctor who misdiagnoses and then mistreats a patient can be sued for medical malpractice.

Negligent Conduct

The responsible party must have failed to uphold their duty of care due to negligence, misconduct, or deliberate wrongdoing. This failure typically involves a departure from the expected standard of care given the circumstances.

Causal Link

It must be established that the breach of duty directly led to or significantly contributed to the individual’s demise. It is imperative to demonstrate that the death would not have occurred if not for the actions or inactions of the responsible party. A skilled legal professional can handle obtaining irrefutable evidence to show the correlation successfully. 

Compensable Harm

The surviving relatives or beneficiaries must have incurred damages as a consequence of the death. These damages encompass financial losses such as medical expenses and funeral expenditures, as well as intangible losses like the deprivation of financial support, companionship, and emotional anguish.

A wrongful death claim can derive from a variety of situations, such as: 

  1. Traffic accidents: Fatalities resulting from car, truck, or motorcycle accidents caused by negligent or reckless driving, drunk driving, speeding, or other forms of driver misconduct. Our car accident lawyers, motorcycle accident lawyers, and truck accident lawyers who serve Hanover County can easily manage your wrongful death auto case. 
  2. Medical malpractice: Deaths caused by medical negligence, such as surgical errors, misdiagnosis, medication errors, or failure to provide appropriate medical treatment.
  3. Workplace accidents: Fatalities occurring in the workplace due to unsafe working conditions, inadequate safety measures, defective equipment, or employer negligence. A  workplace injury lawyer near  Hanover County will analyze all these things to pinpoint liability. 
  4. Product liability: Deaths caused by defective or dangerous products, such as faulty machinery, defective vehicles, or unsafe pharmaceuticals.
  5. Premises liability: Fatalities resulting from dangerous conditions on someone else’s property, such as slip and fall accidents, inadequate security leading to criminal attacks, or building code violations. Our trusted slip and fall attorney assigned to Hanover County can easily assist you. 
  6. Criminal acts: Deaths caused by intentional acts of violence, such as assault, homicide, or manslaughter.

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Essential Criteria for Your Wrongful Death Case

Handling a wrongful death case alone can be triggering and overwhelming if you are unsure of the procedural requirements needed to have a successful case. Our wrongful death attorneys near Hanover County will ensure the following criteria are met:

  • Statute of limitations: A crucial procedural requirement is to file the lawsuit within the state’  statute of limitations, which is the specified timeframe within which a lawsuit must be initiated. Virginia’s statute of limitations for wrongful death cases is within two years of the injury, but an attorney will explain the applicable deadline in your situation.
  • Standing: The wrongful death lawsuit must be filed by the appropriate party with legal standing. In most cases, the executor or personal representative of the deceased person’s estate initiates the lawsuit on behalf of the surviving family members or beneficiaries. If there is no appointed executor, the court may appoint one.
  • Notice requirements: Some jurisdictions require the party filing the lawsuit to provide a formal notice of the intent to sue to the potential defendants. This notice typically includes information about the deceased person, the circumstances of the death, and the legal basis for the claim.
  • Gathered evidence: It is essential to gather evidence to support the wrongful death claim. This may involve collecting medical records, accident reports, witness statements, expert opinions, and any other relevant documentation or evidence that demonstrates the negligence or misconduct of the responsible party.
  • Damages assessment: The damages sought in a wrongful death lawsuit need to be calculated and documented. Consulting with experts, such as economists or life care planners, may be necessary to assess the full extent of the damages.
  • Filing the lawsuit: Once all the necessary documentation and evidence are gathered, the lawsuit can be formally filed with the appropriate court. The complaint will outline the legal basis for the claim and specify the damages sought.

After the lawsuit is filed, the legal process begins, which may involve discovery (exchanging information and evidence with the opposing party), settlement negotiations, mediation, or trial. The specific proceedings will depend on the circumstances of the case and the preference of the parties involved.

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Accessing Compensation Won in a Typical Wrongful Death Lawsuit

As per § 8.01-50, compensation for various damages can be sought, which may include, but are not limited to:

  • Expenses related to medical care, treatment, and hospitalization resulting from the injury leading to death.
  • Compensation for the pain and suffering experienced by the deceased person.
  • Reasonable funeral expenses for the deceased person.
  • The present monetary value of the deceased person to the eligible parties receiving the recovered damages, encompassing compensation for the loss of expected financial support, net income, and loss of services, protection, care, and assistance that the deceased person would have provided to the eligible parties.
  • Compensation for the loss of society, companionship, comfort, guidance, kind services, and advice that the deceased person would have provided to the eligible parties.
  • Punitive damages, if the death was caused by malicious, willful, or reckless behavior.

Remember, each case is different. While the above components may be the average factors in a wrongful death lawsuit, some may not apply to you or others not listed may. An unexpected death lawyer will help you navigate this well. 

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Get a Wrongful Death Lawyer to Maximize Your Settlement

Hanover County has a leading amount of fatalities from all types of accidents. The Pendleton Law Team is always ready to take on cases for victims and their survivors to obtain the highest payout possible. To discuss your case in a free consultation, contact us today. Our compassionate wrongful death lawyers assigned to Hanover County can’t wait to help.  

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