If you recently lost a family member due to another party’s negligence, you may be on the fence about what to do. You are not alone. Figuring out how to file a wrongful death suit is extremely complex and distressing. To help you make that important decision, there are five things every grieving family should know about bringing a claim for a Virginia wrongful death.
The Virginia wrongful death lawyers at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp are here to help you understand and defend your rights after losing a loved one because of someone’s careless or reckless conduct. We know that the process of filing this type of suit is unfamiliar to most people and are prepared to guide you through each phase.
Contact our Virginia Beach personal injury team right away to schedule a free, no-obligation review of your potential claim.
The First Step
The first step in pursuing a Virginia wrongful death claim is identifying the executor of the estate of the deceased. Under Virginia law, only the legal personal representative or executor of the deceased may file the lawsuit. The next step is, of course, to hire an experienced wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible; one who is able to establish the circumstances and facts surrounding the death. More often than not, when a person dies in an accident, their testimony regarding the event and any prevailing conditions is no longer available. This fact could compromise your cases’ value. It is essential to sign with an attorney early so they can help you investigate and gather the evidence you need to prove and win your Virginia wrongful death case.
The Immediate Family
You don’t have to be a member of the victim’s family to qualify as a representative to act on behalf of the deceased. The extent of damages and the beneficiaries who receive them, however, will be determined by your familial relationship. This means that members of the deceased’s immediate family are the ones entitled to damages. If, however, a member of the family does not feel capable of taking on the administrative duties necessary to pursue the claim, they can appoint a third party to oversee the matter.
The Insurance Investigation
Unless you were a witness to the accident, you do not need to speak with anyone from the insurance company. It is important to remember that insurance companies become involved in these investigations for one primary reason: to devalue or deny your claim. They seem anxious to talk to you because they are digging for information that will help them to raise a defense that minimizes your claim’s value.
As with almost all personal injury cases, most attorneys operate on a contingency fee. This means you are only charged if you are awarded recovery. During the pursuit of a wrongful death case, numerous charges are incurred by your attorney, including the hiring of medical professionals, expert witnesses, and others who may have expertise in a field relevant to establishing how the accident occurred and how it caused the injuries that led to the death in question.
The Statute of Limitations
In a Virginia wrongful death, eligible parties are subjected to a two-year statute of limitations. In other words, you have two years from the cause of action in which to bring your claim. Sometimes, there are tolling provisions that could extend that deadline, but the rule of thumb is two years from the day the death occurred.
Consult a Respected Virginia Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
If you lost a loved one through the negligence or dereliction of another party, you do not have to go through a wrongful death suit alone. Contact a Virginia wrongful death lawyer from Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp today for a free case evaluation at (833) 997-1774 or via our online form. Our Norfolk-area legal team knows how devastating this time is for you and your family. Let us put our experience to work for you.
For over twenty years, Mr. Sharp's law practice has focused on serious personal injury claims, including traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury claims. He also handles nursing home neglect cases and medical malpractice claims. Mr. Sharp has counseled numerous clients about the complexities concerning litigation of both pediatric and adult brain injury.