The announcement that someone you love dearly has died in a fatal car crash in Virginia is certainly among the toughest experiences you could imagine. When someone's death is directly attributable to the wrongful act, default, or negligence of another person or company, a claim for wrongful death can be filed.
Who can file a wrongful death claim?
In order to file suit for wrongful death, you must be a personal representative of the deceased. This could be the executor or administrator of the estate, or someone appointed by the clerk of the court to represent the deceased's beneficiaries. Siblings and cousins do not qualify to bring the lawsuit, unless they have been designated as guardian or personal representative.
Who are the beneficiaries of a wrongful death award?
According to the Virginia code, the individuals who are eligible to receive compensation are determined at the time of the verdict. The beneficiaries could be, in descending order of priority:
- The surviving spouse, children of the deceased, and the children of any deceased child of the deceased;
- The parents, brothers, and sisters of the deceased, or any other relative who is a member of the household and is dependent on the decedent for support or services.
The code further determines how compensation is distributed among various beneficiaries.
What damages can be claimed?
The wrongful death jurisdiction has been created to make it possible for someone other than the victim to file suit for damages suffered. Because the victim is dead, damages cannot include retribution for pain or suffering by the deceased. Typically, wrongful death damages include:
- Sorrow, mental anguish, and loss of solace;
- Expected loss of income suffered by the beneficiaries;
- Loss of services, protection, care, and assistance provided by the decedent;
- Expenses for the treatment and hospitalization of the victim directly related to the injury resulting in his or her death.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a Virginia car crash, please contact our Warrenton or Culpeper office today. You can discuss your accident case with one of our skilled and dedicated attorneys to see how we can help you secure fair compensation.