After the wrongful death of a loved one, speaking to a Winchester wrongful death attorney is likely not your first priority. You are still struggling with the grief caused by the loss of your loved one. You are likely also worried about the financial impact the death may have caused, and unsure about how you will handle it. When you work with a wrongful death attorney in Winchester, they will handle every aspect of your claim with the compassion and dignity it deserves. While working on your claim, an attorney will also build a strong case to help you recover the full damages that can help offset the financial burden of the loss.
Virginia’s Laws on Wrongful Death
Virginia law defines wrongful death as any reckless, careless, negligent, or wrongful act that results in the death of another person. Wrongful deaths are sometimes very sudden, such as when a violent car accident occurs. Other times, wrongful deaths do not happen immediately. For example, a car crash may be serious enough to result in a wrongful death, but the accident victim may suffer for some time in the hospital before succumbing to their injuries.
Car accidents are just one type of accident that sometimes result in wrongful death. Other causes include truck accidents, medical malpractice, and more. Any time the negligent, careless, or intentional acts of another person cause a death, their loved ones can file a claim for compensation.
Who Can File Wrongful Death?
In Virginia, only the personal representative of the estate can file a wrongful death claim. If the personal representative is successful with the claim, the statutory beneficiaries that can recover damages are as follows:
- The surviving spouse, child, or grandchildren of the deceased
- The surviving parent, sibling, or any other relative that was financially dependent on the deceased at the time of their death
- Other surviving relatives entitled to inherit a portion of the estate under the state’s intestacy laws
If a parent’s rights have been terminated, they do not have a legal right to claim damages in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Determining Liability in Wrongful Death Claims
In order for a wrongful death claim to be successful, the person filing the claim must prove that someone else caused the death. To do this, they must show the negligent party owed the deceased a duty of care, that they breached that duty, and that the breach of duty resulted in the death. Determining and proving liability is never easy and sometimes, there are multiple parties to blame. A Winchester wrongful death attorney will determine which party caused the wrongful death, and collect evidence to prove it.
Statute of Limitations on Wrongful Death Claims
Under Virginia law, wrongful death claims in Winchester must be filed within two years of the date of the death. If a claim is not filed within this time, the beneficiaries will forfeit any right to claim damages. Two years sometimes sounds like a long time, particularly when you are grieving, but it is not. Prior to filing the wrongful death claim, an investigation must be conducted to determine liability and collect evidence to prove the claim. All of this takes time, so it is always best to speak to a Winchester wrongful death attorney as soon as possible after any wrongful death.
Damages Available in Winchester Wrongful Death Claims
Beneficiaries can claim many different types of damages in a wrongful death claim. Damages are financial compensation intended to compensate for the losses the death caused. Economic damages are those that have a finite dollar amount, while non-economic damages do not and as such, are harder to calculate. Both types of damages are available in a wrongful death claim and the most common of those awarded include:
- Mental anguish caused by the loss of companionship, guidance, and comfort of the deceased
- Lost wages, services, care, and protection of the deceased
- Medical expenses for the care and hospitalization of the deceased prior to their death
- Funeral and burial costs
In some cases, punitive damages are also awarded, but this is rare. Punitive damages are unlike other types of compensation because they are not intended to compensate for a loss. Instead, they are meant to punish the liable party and deter them from acting with extreme negligence or recklessness in the future.
Call Our Wrongful Death Attorney in Winchester Today
If you have lost someone and you believe someone else caused the death, our Winchester wrongful death attorney at Correll Law Firm can provide the sound legal advice you need. Call us today at 540-535-2005 or contact us online to schedule a free case evaluation with our knowledgeable attorney.
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