The sudden loss of a family member can be one of the most traumatic things you might go through in life. While any unexpected passing is difficult, it can be particularly challenging to learn that negligence played a role in your loved one’s death.

If you are facing the recent loss of a family member due to negligence, a wrongful death lawsuit could provide you with a measure of justice. With the help of a seasoned injury attorney, you could protect your rights under the law and hold the negligent party accountable for his or her actions. Before you consider filing a legal action on your own, it could be in your best interest to speak to a Waynesboro wrongful death lawyer. Call The Warren Firm as soon as you can to get started.

Understanding Wrongful Death Cases

Under Virginia law, a death is considered wrongful if it is caused by a wrongful act, default, or neglect. These types of cases are similar to personal injury lawsuits. Because the decedent can no longer pursue legal action on his or her own, wrongful death lawsuits are available for families to recover from the loss. An experienced attorney in Waynesboro could pursue a wrongful death lawsuit on your behalf under a variety of circumstances, including:

Civil vs. Criminal Cases

It can be easy to confuse a criminal case for an offense like murder with a wrongful death lawsuit. Both of these types of cases involve the death of another person, and both types of cases could result from the same death. However, there are significant legal differences to understand regarding wrongful death lawsuits and criminal prosecutions.

The government handles criminal prosecutions, and the decedent’s surviving relatives have no control over the case. Only the prosecutor can decide to move forward or choose not to prosecute. If the at-fault person is convicted, he or she could face jail time and fines.

However, wrongful death lawsuits are not criminal matters. Instead of pursuing incarceration, the outcome of a successful wrongful death lawsuit is a monetary verdict. These civil cases can be pursued even if the state chooses not to file criminal charges. In Waynesboro wrongful death claims, it is beneficial to have a dedicated lawyer who could help you and your family pursue the damages you deserve rather than pursuing the claim alone.

Who Can Pursue a Wrongful Death Suit?

There are strict limitations when it comes to the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. While some jurisdictions allow certain surviving family members to pursue these cases on their own, that is not the case in Waynesboro. According to the law, only the personal representative of the decedent’s estate has the right to file the lawsuit.

This person is typically identified in the decedent’s last will and testament. If a personal representative is not named or that named person refuses to serve, the court can appoint someone else to stand in. Generally, the personal representative is a member of the decedent’s surviving family.

Talk to a Waynesboro Wrongful Death Attorney Today

If your loved one’s death is related to an act of negligence, filing a lawsuit may be appropriate, but it is challenging to pursue alone. Whether you have been named the estate’s representative or not, an attorney at The Warren Firm could help you protect your rights during this difficult time. Call a Waynesboro wrongful death lawyer right away to learn more about your legal rights and options.