A wrongful death refers to the loss of a life caused by another person’s negligent or wrongful acts. Lawsuits brought following a wrongful death are civil actions, separate from criminal prosecutions that may also take place following a fatal accident. There are many underlying causes of wrongful death lawsuits, including car accidents, truck crashes, and serious slip and fall accidents. At Robinson Law, we are familiar with Virginia law as it governs wrongful death claims. Our Fairfax wrongful death lawyers help families present a strong claim for recovery, successfully proving fault and managing the details and potential complexities. We advocate for families in Fairfax, Loudoun, Alexandria, and Arlington, as well as elsewhere in Northern Virginia.Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit According to Virginia Law
Virginia law makes clear that the personal representative of the deceased person is entitled to bring a wrongful death claim. Typically, this individual is appointed by the will of the deceased person, or by the state. The personal representative files the claim, and according to law, the surviving spouse and children collect damages. Individuals entitled to recover damages are designated as “statutory beneficiaries,” set forth by state law. Other family members who may be financially dependent on the deceased person may be eligible to collect wrongful death damages. These include parents, siblings, and other relatives.
The goal of a wrongful death case is to show that another person or entity was legally responsible for causing the death. For example, following a fatal car accident, the representative and a wrongful death attorney in Fairfax must prove that the death was caused by negligence or intentional wrongful conduct. Negligence is a failure to conduct oneself with reasonable care, providing for the safety of others. Driving too fast for weather conditions or failing to follow traffic signals may be deemed negligent. Other examples include truck drivers operating their vehicles while fatigued, in violation of federal hours of service rules. These drivers may cause a crash and resulting fatalities.
Factors specific to each case are carefully assessed in order to determine fault for a wrongful death. When another person’s breached duty of care directly led to the death of a loved one, family members can hold the careless person legally responsible. The final step in a wrongful death claim is for surviving family members to set forth their damages, which essentially quantify harm suffered due to the death.Damages in a Wrongful Death Case Compensate the Estate and Surviving Family
Damages awarded in wrongful death cases may include mental anguish, sorrow, and the solace that was provided by the companionship and comfort of the deceased person. In some cases, children obtain damages for the loss of a parent. Wrongful death damages also may include the loss of income provided by the decedent and the services that they provided. An expert may testify to the life expectancy of the decedent in order to set forth a strong calculation of lost earnings. Inflation is taken into account, and it is important to calculate the proper amount so that family members receive financial stability.
A Fairfax wrongful death attorney also may pursue hospitalization and treatment expenses, as well as reasonable funeral expenses. Virginia law sometimes even provides for punitive damages, which may apply depending on the facts of the case. When the conduct that caused the death is deemed willful or wanton, or reckless such that it exhibited a “conscious disregard for the safety of others,” punitive damages may be awarded to punish such behavior.
Wrongful death claims have a two-year statute of limitations. Essentially, all claims must be filed within this time period in order to be heard by a court. The investigation should begin immediately after the death so that evidence can be preserved and any witnesses can be interviewed.Get Help for Your Wrongful Death Claim From an Experienced Fairfax Attorney
An experienced lawyer can help maximize recovery for families pursuing a wrongful death claim after the loss of a loved one. At Robinson Law, we provide efficient, dedicated services to family members as they hold wrongdoers accountable for their negligent conduct. By speaking to a qualified lawyer, you are taking the first step toward recovering damages for your loss. Contact our office at your earliest convenience for a free consultation with a wrongful death lawyer in Fairfax regarding your claim. We can be reached by phone at (703) 649-4500 or online.