What is the Difference Between Wrongful Death and Negligence?

Motor vehicle crashes, slip and falls, and other accidents can cause serious injuries to victims, but some incidents are so severe and devastating that they lead to fatalities. In fact, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that unintentional injuries are the Number 3 cause of death in the US. More than 173,000 lives are lost due to accidents every year, and negligence is behind most of them. The grief is unimaginable and financial consequences hit hard for surviving family members.

It may be some comfort to know that Virginia laws provide you with legal remedies, but the difference between wrongful death and negligence can be confusing. While you can trust a Winchester wrongful death attorney to explain the details that pertain to your case, an overview and comparison may be helpful.

Summary of Virginia Personal Injury Laws

The best way to understand the two concepts is through definitions and examples.

Negligence = Liability: Accidents happen because of careless acts, and negligence refers to what you must prove to recover compensation. The focus is fault, which is defined as a breach of the legal duty to exercise reasonable care. For example, motorists may breach the duty through speeding, drunk driving, running red lights, or failing to yield.

Wrongful Death = Legal Remedy: Negligence is the form of liability that leads to accidents; when negligence leads to a fatality, a wrongful death lawsuit is a legal solution for surviving family members. In other words, you might have a case if someone close to you died because another person or entity breached the duty of care. Besides the car accident scenario, wrongful death cases may stem from slip and falls, medical malpractice, and defective products.

For accident cases alleging negligence, including wrongful death, Virginia’s statute of limitations is two years.

Damages in Fatal Accident Cases

Wrongful death actions are a type of personal injury case based upon negligence concepts, but compensation works differently when the victim passed away instead of only being hurt in an accident. Monetary damages aim to provide compensation for survivors, including:

  • The deceased person’s surviving spouse;
  • The decedent’s children and/or grandchildren;
  • Surviving parents and siblings of the deceased victim, if there is no spouse or children; and
  • Any relative who lived with and relied upon the decedent for support.

These individuals may qualify to receive amounts for sorrow and anguish, as well as lost comfort, guidance, income, financial support, and related contributions. It is also possible to recover for medical costs, funeral costs, and burial expenses.

Trust a Virginia Wrongful Death Lawyer to Handle the Legal Process

This overview about the difference between wrongful death and negligence is helpful, but there are many other concepts and details that apply in a real-life case. The complexities can be challenging, so it is wise to trust experienced legal counsel to assist with your claim. To learn more about your rights and the wrongful death process, please contact Correll Law Firm at 540-535-2005 or via our website. A knowledgeable attorney can advise you after hearing more about your situation.