Losing a loved one is a terrible event.  If there are dependents, such as a spouse, child, sibling or parent, the family can find themselves struggling to pay the bills.

There are numerous causes of deaths in Virginia, but when the death is the direct result of someone else’s negligence or wrongful act, a wrongful death case exists.  Virginia wrongful death cases can be the result of a car accident, truck collision, medical malpractice, nursing home neglect or workplace injury.  There are specific rules and guidelines as to how survivors can pursue a wrongful death claim.  A successful wrongful death lawsuit can provide compensation for the surviving family members.

Wrongful Death Damages
The Virginia Statute governing wrongful death lawsuits establishes a method for how damages are calculated.  According to the law, the jury or court may award damages that it deems fair and just.  Damages available for wrongful death are as follows:

• Sorrow, mental anguish and solace, which may include society, companionship, guidance, comfort, kindly offices and advice of the decedent
• Compensation for reasonably expected loss of income, services, protection, assistance and care given by the decedent
• Medical expenses
• Reasonable funeral expenses
• Punitive damages

Wrongful Death Compensation for Surviving Family Members
According to Virginia Code § 8.01 – 53, the individuals eligible to receive compensation will be determined at the time the verdict is entered if the jury makes the specification or at the time the judgment is rendered if the court decides the distribution.  The damages will be distributed to the beneficiaries identified by the jury or when the judgment is rendered.  Damages for wrongful death may be awarded to the following individuals:

• Surviving spouse, children of the deceased and the children of any deceased child of the deceased are eligible

• If there is no surviving spouse, child or grandchild, then the damages may go to the parents and siblings of the deceased or any other relative who is primarily dependent on the decedent for support or services and is a member of the decedent’s household

• If there is no child or grandchild, but there is a surviving spouse, the damages may be awarded to the spouse and parents

There are additional guidelines for how damages should be awarded that depend on the details of the decedent’s family.  A Virginia wrongful death attorney would be able to further discuss the distribution of damages.

If you have lost a loved one and believe that the death was the result of a negligent or wrongful act, contact Dulaney, Lauer & Thomas, LLP at 888-907-2631 for our Warrenton office or 800-741-1012 for our Culpeper office. 

Andrew Thomas
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Civil litigation attorney in Virginia and is AV Rated by Martindale-Hubbell.

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