Earlier this month, a Virginia car accident resulted in the death of an 83-year-old man. According to a local news report, the man was driving his pick-up truck on Route 122 when an oncoming minivan crossed over the center line, crashing into the man’s vehicle. The man was wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident. While emergency responders were on the scene within minutes, the driver of the pick-up truck sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.
The driver of the minivan, as well as her two minor passengers, were hospitalized as a result of the accident. They are expected to make a full recovery. Authorities are still looking into the cause of the fatal head-on collision.
Pursuing a Virginia Wrongful Death Claim
When someone is killed in a Virginia motor vehicle collision, the accident victim’s surviving family members may pursue a claim for financial compensation through a Virginia wrongful death case. Wrongful death cases are very similar to other negligence cases in that they require a plaintiff to show that the defendant’s “wrongful act, neglect, or default,” caused the death of their loved one. Simply put, the elements of a wrongful death claim are duty, breach, causation, and damages.
In order for a case to be heard by the courts, the plaintiff filing the claim must be a proper party, and the filing must be timely. In Virginia, the personal representative of the deceased must be the one to file a wrongful death claim, and they must do so within two years. Depending on the type of case, a plaintiff may need to present the testimony of an expert witness to explain any scientific or medical issues beyond the common understanding of most jurors.
While a wrongful death case is brought by the personal representative of the deceased’s estate, it is brought for the benefit of the deceased’s beneficiaries. Primary beneficiaries include the deceased’s spouse, children, and grandchildren; however, parents, siblings, and any other living family member may recover if no primary beneficiaries exist. If successful, a Virginia wrongful death plaintiff may be able to recover compensation for the following:
- Sorrow and mental anguish;
- Reasonable medical and funeral expenses;
- Loss of the deceased’s care, comfort, guidance, companionship, society, advice, and kindly offices;
- Lost wages that the deceased might reasonably have been expected to earn in their lifetime;
- Punitive damages, if the defendant acted “wantonly, oppressively, or with such malice as to evince a spirit of malice or criminal indifference to civil obligations.”
Anyone considering a Virginia wrongful death lawsuit should consult with a dedicated injury attorney.
Have You Lost a Loved One in a Virginia Accident?
If you recently lost a loved one in a Virginia car accident, contact the dedicated injury advocates at Robison Law, PLLC. At our Virginia personal injury law firm, we represent injury victims and their families in all types of claims, including Virginia wrongful death cases. To learn more about how we can help you pursue a claim for compensation, call (703) 542-4008 today.