VIRGINIA WRONGFUL DEATH FAQS
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Losing a loved one is never an easy time in one's life. The pain that you are going through can be increased however, if the death was unnecessary and caused by the negligence of another person - or entity. If you have lost a loved one due to the negligence, recklessness, or carelessness of another person, then a Virginia wrongful death lawyer may be able to help get you some of the answers that you deserve. We can begin to investigate to see if you have a civil claim for the loss that you and your family have suffered. We will work hard to hold the person who is responsible for your loved one's death accountable for their actions. Also, the harder we work, the more we can do to stop that person or company from hurting someone else.
We get asked a lot of questions relating to Virginia wrongful death claims, and so we have put together these frequently asked questions to help give you a better understanding of the claims process, the investigation, and whether or not you have a claim. Please contact a wrongful death lawyer today.
What is a wrongful death?
When your loved one dies as the result of someone's negligence, a wrongful death action is the civil claim arising out of that death. For example, if your loved one is killed in a car accident involving a drunk driver, that drunk driver will be arrested by the police and prosecuted by the Commonwealth Attorneys' Office. This is a criminal case. You still have a case against that person for monetary damages for the loss of your loved one, and this is the wrongful death claim.
Who can file a wrongful death action?
A wrongful death claim is filed by a personal representative or administrator of the estate of the deceased person. This Estate has to be created by law. Sometimes a member of the decedents family is named as administrator, and other times, to remove even that burden from the family, another lawyer is appointed for that purpose. This is the person who acts in the best interests of the beneficiaries of the wrongful death action.
Pursuant to Virginia law, the beneficiaries of a wrongful death action are spouses, children, parents, and siblings
What are the damages that can be claimed in a wrongful death case?
Wrongful death damages are set out by statute. They include:
Pain and Suffering
Loss of companionship
Loss of income
Loss of services
Loss of counsel and good offices of the deceased
Medical bills relating to the death
Punitive damages (if the conduct of the negligent party was so reckless as to shock the conference, or is otherwise permissible by law)
What kind of attorney should I hire?
In order to ensure that you and your family are properly protected, you should hire a Virginia wrongful death lawyer. Not all lawyers are the same, and not all lawyers are able to handle all kinds of cases. The field of personal injury is very broad. There are a lot of nuances to wrongful death practice that require an experienced attorney to be able to parse out the claim, and make sure that no mistakes are made that a defense attorney can use against you and your family.
When evaluating an attorney, you want to work with a lawyer who has handled wrongful death cases before, whether those cases stem from car accidents, truck accidents, pedestrian strikes, and other causes.
How long after the loss of my family member should I call a lawyer?
You should contact a lawyer right away. The truth is, that as soon as your loved one died, the insurance company for the responsible person contacted their lawyers, and set them to work trying to build the defense. The longer you wait, the more time they have to try to argue that your loved one was somehow responsible for their own death.
This probably sounds reprehensible, but Virginia practices a doctrine called contributory negligence. A person who is even 1% responsible for their own injuries, including death, cannot recover. You need an experienced attorney immediately to get to work, and begin fighting for your family, to defeat the arguments that the insurance companies are going to make.
How is a wrongful death lawyer paid?
A Virginia wrongful death attorney works on a contingency fee basis. This means that the attorneys fees are paid out of any recovery made on behalf of the estate. In our office, if we are not able to recover for the family, then we do not get paid. Our contingency fee means that our payment is contingent upon our success for you.
However, separate from an attorney's fees are the expenses of the case
What are the Expenses?
Expenses vary on a case by case basis. But these things can include investigative costs, crash reconstructions, forensic experts, court reporters, filing fees, medical expert testimony, causation expert testimony, and other trial expenses. In a wrongful death case, these expenses can be significant.
It is important to remember that the insurance companies are going to be bearing the same costs, and you cannot be caught out by their ability to absorb those expenses.
How long do we have to file the case?
In Virginia, a wrongful death claim must be filed within two years of the date of death (this is the statute of limitations). However, you should never wait that long to get an attorney. There is a lot of investigation and preparatory work to be done. You want to engage an attorney as soon as possible, not wait two years.
How long do these cases take?
Wrongful death cases can take time. Because of the intricacies of the law, because of the necessarily complicated investigation, because of the facts themselves, these cases will often result in the filing of a lawsuit. Many insurance companies use a tactic of trying to run up the plaintiff's expenses, and not even offering to settle the case until depositions have been taken. They are counting on the fact that some smaller law firms cannot devote the time that is necessary to properly prepare and prosecute a wrongful death action.
Thankfully, we have the Blaszkow Legal Method in our office. We investigate every case thoroughly, from the moment you or your family become our client. We do this in all cases, not just Virginia wrongful death claims. We do this work, and we work this hard, to make sure that the insurance companies cannot catch us out of place later on. We will be fully prepared.
Can Blaszkow Legal help me?
Absolutely! We have devoted our practice to helping personal injury victims in Virginia, Maryland, and DC. Our team of attorneys, paralegals, and investigators is ready willing and able to fight for you and for your family, to get you the justice that you deserve. We have handled a lot of wrongful death cases, and we know how the insurance companies are going to fight. Hire the team that is going to stop at nothing to hold the negligent people accountable, and get the best result for your family. Call today - 703-879-5910
Virginia Wrongful Death Statute: https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title8.01/chapter3/section8.01-50/
Beneficiaries of a Virginia Wrongful Death Action: https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title8.01/chapter3/section8.01-53/