The loss of a loved one is devastating enough. But to lose a family member in an accident that could have been prevented is even worse. If you have lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence or an intentional act, a Virginia wrongful death attorney from Arrington Schelin can help you demand accountability and justice.
For more than 40 years, the attorneys of Arrington Schelin have been representing the families of those killed in accidents. We know that no amount of money can truly make things right. Still, we believe that families should not be left to struggle financially when someone else is to blame for their loss.
Contact our firm today for a free consultation with a trusted Virginia wrongful death attorney. We are here to discuss your case, answer your questions, and help you decide the best path forward. And you can rest assured that our firm does not charge a fee unless we recover payment for you.
What Is Considered a Wrongful Death Under Virginia Law?
The Virginia wrongful death statute defines “wrongful death” as any death caused by a wrongful act, neglect, or default of another party. A wrongful death claim occurs in circumstances that would normally give rise to a personal injury claim, had the victim survived the injury or illness.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Virginia?
Virginia’s wrongful death statute states that only the personal representative of the decedent’s estate may file a wrongful death claim. The personal representative normally refers to the executor or administrator of the estate. For most people, a family member is appointed as the executor or administrator.
The only exception to the rule that a wrongful death claim must be filed by the decedent’s personal representative occurs when a fetus dies due to another party’s wrongful act. In this case, the mother may pursue a wrongful death claim.
What Do You Have to Prove in a Wrongful Death Case?
To successfully recover compensation in a wrongful death claim, you will need to prove that another party’s willful, reckless, or negligent conduct caused your loved one’s death. In addition to proving the other party’s fault, you must demonstrate the losses that your family has suffered as a result of the death.
If you have questions about a wrongful death claim, please reach out to our firm today. We can evaluate your case for free and help you understand your legal rights.
Compensation in a Wrongful Death Claim
In a wrongful death claim, your family may be entitled to recover compensation for the loss that you have suffered due to your loved one’s passing. These losses may include:
- The sorrow, emotional trauma, and mental distress your family has suffered
- Loss of your loved one’s comfort, companionship, guidance, advice, and society
- Loss of your loved one’s services and assistance to the household
- Loss of your loved one’s future expected financial contributions to the family, including both income and benefits such as health insurance
Your loved one’s estate may also be entitled to pursue a survival action, a claim legally distinct from the wrongful death claim. Through this type of claim, you can seek compensation for:
- Medical expenses incurred to treat your loved one’s last injury or illness
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Pain and suffering your loved one experienced prior to death
If the at-fault party engaged in willful, wanton, or reckless conduct that caused your loved one’s passing, your family may also be entitled to an award of punitive damages. Punitive damages are not intended to compensate your family for any loss, but rather to punish the at-fault party for their conduct and to serve as a deterrent against others engaging in similar conduct in the future.
Virginia Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations
Under Virginia law, the statute of limitations on wrongful death claims gives families only two years to pursue a lawsuit against the responsible party. If you wait too long to file a claim, you will lose your right to compensation.
We know it can be difficult to focus on legal action when your family is in the process of grieving. That’s why our Virginia wrongful death attorneys can handle all the details of your case from start to finish.
How Our Wrongful Death Lawyers Can Help You
When your family is grieving and trying to recover from the passing of a loved one, let our wrongful death lawyers handle all the aspects of your legal claim. Our dedicated team will:
- Investigate the accident or other underlying facts and circumstances of your loved one’s death, recovering evidence we can use to build a case against those at fault for your loved one’s passing
- Identify all possible sources of compensation for you and your family, including insurance coverage
- Document your family’s losses to ensure we pursue the financial recovery you deserve
- Bring in expert witnesses where necessary to help us develop effective, persuasive arguments for your case
- Handle all negotiations with insurance adjusters and defense lawyers to aggressively seek a fair and full wrongful death settlement for your family
- Pursue your case in court when litigation represents the best chance at securing maximum compensation
If you lost someone you love in an accident that could have been prevented, you don’t have to deal with the financial burdens alone. Turn to an experienced wrongful death attorney at Arrington Schelin for help. We offer confidential consultations at no cost, so call us or reach out to us online now.
Our wrongful death law firm serves families in Bristol, Marion, Norton, Abingdon, Tazewell, Wise, Lebanon, Grundy, and throughout Southwest Virginia and East Tennessee.
Wrongful Death FAQs
Under Virginia’s wrongful death statute, the primary beneficiaries include a surviving spouse and the surviving children (or grandchildren if a child died before the decedent). If a decedent had no surviving spouse or descendants, then beneficiaries include surviving parents and siblings, along with any other family member who lived with and was financially dependent on the decedent. If a decedent left no surviving beneficiaries, then the recovery obtained in a wrongful death claim can be paid to any surviving family member entitled to inherit from the decedent’s estate under the intestacy laws.
Because your loved one could have filed a personal injury claim had they survived their last injuries or illness, Virginia law allows your loved one’s estate to continue to pursue that claim as a survival action. A survival action can allow the estate to recover compensation for the conscious pain and suffering that your loved one experienced prior to death. However, compensation obtained in a survival action is paid to the deceased individual’s estate, rather than directly to the surviving family members of the decedent.
Wrongful death settlements are normally paid out in one of two ways: lump sum or structured. In a lump-sum settlement, the total amount is paid out all at once. In a structured settlement, the total amount is paid out in monthly, quarterly, or annual payments.
A lump-sum settlement could benefit families by allowing them to take care of significant debts and expenses left by their loved one’s passing. A structured settlement has the benefit of giving families regular income to help them recover from the loss of their loved one’s financial contributions. A structured settlement could also lead to a larger total compensation since the liable parties are not required to pay the total amount of the settlement all at once.
Our wrongful death lawyers represent families on a contingency-fee-basis. In a contingency-fee arrangement, you do not pay any money upfront. Instead, our firm is only paid when we win compensation for your family through a settlement or at trial. Our fee equals an agreed-upon percentage of the total financial recovery we obtain in your case.