How does a wrongful death action work in Virginia?

wrongful death actionIt is never easy to lose a loved one, but it can be especially heartbreaking if he died because of another person’s negligence. While it will never replace the loved one who has been lost, the family of an injury victim may be able to obtain compensation from the negligent party in a wrongful death action.

What Is a Wrongful Death Action?

Under Virginia law, the family of a person who died in an accident can file a claim for compensation in a wrongful death action if the death was caused by “the wrongful act, neglect, or default" of another party. The deceased person must have had a valid claim that he could have pursued if he had lived. Only certain family members can file this type of claim. They include the following:

  • Surviving spouse, children, and grandchildren of the deceased person
  • Surviving parents, siblings, or other relatives who shared a household with the victim and were his dependents
  • A surviving family member who is entitled to inherit from the deceased person’s estate under Virginia’s intestate laws.

Compensation in Wrongful Death Actions

In a wrongful death claim, the victim’s family may be entitled to damages which are slightly different from those that the deceased person could have received had he suffered injuries but lived. The family may receive compensation for:

  • Their pain and emotional trauma
  • Loss of the deceased person’s companionship, care, comfort, and advice
  • Loss of the value of the person’s wages and benefits, including future amounts that they would have received if he had lived
  • Medical bills from the victim’s last injuries and death
  • Reasonable funeral and burial expenses
  • Punitive damages—awarded to punish the negligent party if his actions were especially negligent

If a loved one died as a result of the negligence of another person or business, we are here to help you hold the negligent party responsible and to obtain the compensation you deserve. Call our office today to schedule a free consultation to get you questions answered and learn about your legal options.