Losing a loved one is one of the most difficult things we will ever face in life. Although nothing can or will ever replace your loss, Virginia law gives you the right to seek some measure of justice when life is taken due to the negligence or carelessness of another person or company.
Instead of worrying about what to do next, speak to one of our Petersburg, Virginia, wrongful death attorneys at Christina Pendleton & Associates. We will answer any questions you may have and advise you on your course of action in a free evaluation.
What Is Considered Wrongful Death in Virginia?
Wrongful death is defined as death “caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default” of another party, according to Virginia Code section 8.01-50. Cases of wrongful death are similar to circumstances which would call for a personal injury lawsuit if the person had lived.
Examples of fatal accidents from which wrongful death claims are often filed include:
- Motor vehicle accidents caused by negligent drivers or dangerous roads
- Accidents caused by defective or dangerous products
- Slips, trips, or falls due to hazards on someone’s property
- Construction site or workplace accidents
- Medical malpractice or hospital errors
- Nursing home abuse
- Dog bites or attacks
- Violent assaults
Once wrongful death enters the picture of a case, the legal outcomes change. Our wrongful death attorneys in Petersburg, VA, then have to consider the survivors and how much they would have been supported by the deceased in both financial and non-financial ways.
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Types of Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
When a family member does choose to pursue a wrongful death claim, they have the ability to seek damages for the following:
- Sorrow and mental anguish
- Loss of the consortium (decedent’s care and companionship)
- Loss of the decedent’s income and benefits, including anticipated future income
- Medical expenses associated with the fatal injury or illness
- Funeral and burial expenses (within reason)
- Punitive damages
Most of these damages are intended to compensate surviving family members for their losses. Punitive damages are awarded when a defendant is being punished for their “willful or wanton” behavior that exhibited “a conscious disregard for the safety of others,” according to Va. Code § 8.01-52.
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Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Petersburg, VA?
The “statutory beneficiaries” of the decedent can file a wrongful death claim in Petersburg, Virginia. Statutory beneficiaries can include the following family members or dependents:
- The surviving spouse, children, or grandchildren
- Surviving parents, siblings, or relatives who shared a household with the decedent and was dependent on them
- Surviving family member who is inheriting the decedent’s estate under Virginia’s intestacy laws
The list above is in order of which surviving family members have the right to initially file a wrongful death claim. For example, the spouse, children, and grandchildren are first in their right to file a claim. However, if there are no such family members, the right goes to the surviving parents, siblings, or dependents, and so on.
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What if There’s a Criminal Case?
If a death is involved, the state may have reason to pursue a criminal case against the party you want to sue. If this is so, the result of that case can be a powerful piece of evidence in your civil case.
However, you do not have to wait for that case to finish before you can sue. It’s better to start early so that your lawyer can keep gathering evidence and so that you avoid missing your deadline to sue.
Your wrongful death lawyer in Petersburg, VA, will use their experience to help reach a fair settlement or judgment. For instance, if the criminal case looks unfavorable for the defendant, that can be used as pressure to force them to settle the case with a favorable result.
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Why You Need a Petersburg Wrongful Death Lawyer
Losing a loved one is a traumatic enough experience, without having to deal with legal stress on top of it. A legal professional to advocate for you while your grieving may be the best option.
Insurance companies will often try to take advantage by offering a low, quick settlement to avoid a lawsuit. An experienced wrongful death attorney in Petersburg, VA, knows how to handle insurance companies and get you and your family fair compensation.
Our team is well-versed in Virginia’s wrongful death laws and the most effective means of representing families who have suffered a serious loss. There are no up front costs, and you will only pay when we achieve a favorable settlement or verdict in your case.
I’m Grieving. Should I Wait?
The state of Virginia only allows a time period of two years for grieving families to pursue a wrongful death claim. We understand that grief may make the idea of filing a wrongful death lawsuit tough, but it’s necessary.
Furthermore, a skilled wrongful death attorney will do most of their work behind the scenes. After getting your story, they will handle all the negotiation with the other party and their insurance company.
Contact Pendleton Law Today
Our Petersburg wrongful death lawyers strive to provide superior representation to victims and ensure each client receives the utmost effort from our team. Call Christina Pendleton & Associates or use our contact form if your family has been devastated by the loss of a loved one.
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