Simply put, a wrongful death claim is a lawsuit brought against someone who caused the death of another, usually due to negligence. This type of civil action is unique from personal injury torts in several ways. Most notably, a wrongful death claim must be brought by the administrator or executor of a decedent’s estate.
There are many legal processes in pursuing compensation for the death of a loved one, such as appointing the administrator and filing the lawsuit in the correct name. Often, these processes are not as straightforward as in other types of torts, so it is important to work with a knowledgeable attorney who is well-versed in these types of cases. For a deeper explanation of the unique aspects of wrongful death claims in Charlottesville, contact The Warren Firm.
The main difference between a wrongful death and a personal injury case is that they follow different legal guidelines. Wrongful death is a claim that can be brought about by statute in Virginia. Conversely, personal injury relies on Virginia case law to determine what kind of claims could be brought for a particular case. This distinction also affects how damages are outlined for each type of suit.
The unique damages that could be claimed in a wrongful death action are set forth by the Virginia Code. They include any sorrow, mental anguish and loss of solace suffered by the beneficiaries. Solace is defined under Virginia Code §8.01-52 and may include society, companionship, comfort, guidance, timely offices, and advice of the decedent.
Additionally, those filing suit for their deceased loved ones may seek restitution for expected economic and non-economic losses, similar to personal injury torts. Our hardworking attorneys could help claim the following expected losses accompanying a wrongful death in Charlottesville:
After the wrongful death of a loved one, the family may also want to consult with an experienced lawyer about other litigation options, such as a survivor action. This type of suit is essentially a personal injury action on behalf of the deceased party and has different damages than a wrongful death action. This may be more beneficial in certain cases, such as if an injured victim lived for a year while severely impaired and incurred significant medical bills before his or her passing. One of our knowledgeable Charlottesville attorneys could help determine whether the specific aspects of a wrongful death suit or a survival action are more suitable for the circumstances.
The only person that can bring a wrongful death action on behalf of a Virginia estate is either the executor (the representative named in a will) or the administrator appointed by the court, in cases where there is no will. One of the most common misperceptions about wrongful death is that the claim may be brought by a family member of the deceased. Although the administrator of the estate may be a family member, it does not have to be.
An experienced attorney at our firm could help those filing for wrongful death avoid critical mistakes. For example, a wrongful death lawsuit that is filed in the name of the estate without including the administrator could have disastrous results for the claim. Nearby legal counsel could also advise on unique cases, such as if the defendant responsible for the wrongful death also passed away due to the accident or unrelated causes. In situations where no one qualifies for the administrator of a deceased defendant’s estate, the law allows a third party to fill this role for the limited purpose of receiving a wrongful death lawsuit.
By providing information and support, a seasoned attorney could help Charlottesville families understand the legal processes following the death of a loved one. It is important for those in mourning to find a lawyer that they can trust.
At The Warren Firm, we have years of experience handling the unique aspects of wrongful death suits in Charlottesville. Reach out to our firm for a free consultation today. We are happy to answer any questions you may have.