Losing a loved one is a traumatic, heartbreaking event. No amount of money will ever be able to bring your spouse, sibling, or other relative back. Nevertheless, under the law, the mechanism designed to bring some semblance of justice to a grieving loved one who lost someone in a preventable accident is a wrongful death civil claim.
Below is an overview of the types of damages that can be pursued when filing a wrongful death claim Virginia (VA).
Wrongful Death Defined
When a family member dies or is killed as a result of the negligence or misconduct of another, the surviving members of the victim’s family may sue for “wrongful death.” The person designated to file suit on behalf of the lost loved one is usually the administrator or administratrix of the decedent’s estate. The people who will ultimately receive any monetary damages are known as “statutory beneficiaries.”
Virginia Wrongful Death Damages
The damages that a court or jury may award are those that they believe are “fair and just.” (Va § 8.01-52). The verdict may include damages for the following:
- Mental anguish, sorrow and solace which may include comfort, society, companionship, guidance advice of the decedent and kindly offices suffered by the beneficiaries;
- Compensation for reasonably expected loss in income of the decedent suffered by the beneficiaries; and
- Care expenses to include hospitalization and treatment of the decedent incident to the injury resulting in death;
- Reasonable expenses relating to the funeral; and
- Punitive damages may be recovered for willful or wanton conduct, or such recklessness as evidences a conscious disregard for the safety of others.
If damages for mental anguish, loss of income, and/or hospital expenses are awarded, a decision must be made on which beneficiary receives those monetary damages. Additionally, if damages are awarded for funeral expenses and/or punitive damages, a specific amount of damages must be provided.
In summation, a loved one has the right to pursue damages for the pain and suffering associated with losing a relative or significant other, as well as lost income that was earned by the decedent, the intangible loss to the victim’s family, funeral and hospital expenses, etc. If you or a loved one lost a family member due to the negligence of another, consult an experienced wrongful death attorney.
For more information about the wrongful death claims process, take a moment to download my Virginia Beach wrongful death law firm’s free PDF guide. My firm has extensive experience handling wrongful death cases. For example, we recently represented the estate of a man who died after his lawn tractor suddenly caught fire and burned him alive. We were able to secure a $2.5 million jury verdict on behalf of his loved ones. That $2.5 million represents the amount of damages his family recovered from the wrongful death case.