The RVA Injury Lawyers™
Wrongful Death Lawyers in Richmond
What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Virginia?
If another person causes the death of a family member, your loss is inconceivably tragic and painful. Although money cannot begin to make up for losing your loved one, the Virginia Wrongful Death Act may enable family members to recover compensation from the at-fault person. You can count on our Virginia wrongful death lawyers at Renfro & Renfro to make certain that your family receives the full financial recovery that you are entitled to under the law. From our Richmond office, we serve clients throughout the metro area and Commonwealth of Virginia.
We understand how losing a loved one negatively impacts your life and financial security both short-term and long-term. Our lawyers and staff work as a team to provide the guidance and support your family members need. We shoulder the burden of doing all the work necessary to get your compensation, which enables your family to grieve your loved one’s death without worrying about pursuing your legal rights.
Our Richmond wrongful death attorneys build a close working relationship with each client. Our highly responsive approach puts clients at ease and makes them confident that their legal interests are fully protected. Our results-driven litigation strategy ensures diligent and vigorous representation at every stage of the process.
A state statute called the Wrongful Death Act governs all aspects of wrongful death legal actions and compensation. The law defines a wrongful death as one caused by the “wrongful act, neglect, or default” of another person or business. If the wrongful conduct would have entitled the deceased person to maintain a personal injury action against the at-fault person if death had not occurred, family members specified in the act may benefit from a wrongful death legal action against the person who was at fault. Specific provisions of the statute apply to a fetal death as defined in Virginia law.
Wrongful actions include negligent and intentional conduct. Many different types of incidents can give rise to a wrongful death action, including all types of motor vehicle and traffic accidents, defective products, job-related injuries, and medical malpractice.
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Who Can Make a Wrongful Death Claim?
The law requires a wrongful death action to be brought by the personal representative (the individual names in a Last Will and Testament or appointed by the court to administer an estate or an individual who qualifies as administrator solely for the purposes of filing a lawsuit) of the estate of the deceased person. For a fetal death, the natural mother brings the action. If the mother is also deceased, different provisions in the law apply to initiation of an action.
Under the statute, damages awarded in a wrongful death action are divided among specified beneficiaries, in an order of priority set forth in the law. Generally, the class of beneficiaries includes the surviving spouse, children, children of a deceased child, and parents of the decedent who regularly received specified support or services. If there are no individuals in these categories, the beneficiary class includes parents, siblings, and other relatives who primarily depended on the decedent for services and support and lived in the same household.
Additional provisions in the apply to determination of the beneficiary class as well. The class and eligible beneficiaries are established by the court or a jury, in the event of a trial. The personal representative pays costs and reasonable attorney’s fees before distributing the remaining amount to the beneficiaries.
How Much Is Compensation in a Virginia Wrongful Death Case?
The Wrongful Death Act includes a non-exclusive list of the types of damages that a court or jury may award in a wrongful death case. These provisions establish the parameters for compensation in a wrongful death action. They include:
- Loss of future income
- Loss of anticipated services and assistance
- Sorrow and mental anguish, including loss of companionship, comfort, and guidance
- Expenses for treatment of the decedent prior to death, as well as funeral and burial expenses
- Punitive damages, only in the event of willful or wanton conduct or “recklessness that evinces a conscious disregard for the safety of others”
In most cases, wrongful death actions result in a settlement with the at-fault person’s insurance company, rather than a court or jury trial. During settlement negotiations, your wrongful death lawyers take into account all aspects of the losses suffered by family members that fall under the categories included in the statute.
Do You Need a Lawyer For a Virginia Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
For all the same reasons that you should have an attorney handle your personal injury claim when you receive serious injuries, you should never try to negotiate a wrongful death claim without representation by legal counsel. Addressing the complexity of wrongful death claims under Virginia law, including determining beneficiaries and the amount of compensation, requires the skill and knowledge of an experienced Virginia wrongful death attorney.
If you attempt to negotiate with an insurance company on your own, you are certain to receive much less than you are entitled to under the statute. Our wrongful death lawyers at Renfro & Renfro aggressively represent clients in wrongful death claims to ensure that all beneficiaries receive the full compensation they deserve.
It is extremely important to talk with an attorney as soon as possible after you lose a family member. You have only two years after the date of death to bring a wrongful death action. If you do not file a legal action within the required time (called the statute of limitations), you lose the right to make a wrongful death claim
Free Case Evaluation By Our Respected Richmond Wrongful Death Attorneys
If you lost a family member because of another person’s negligent or intentional action, you may be entitled to compensation under the Virginia Wrongful Death Act. Our respected and experienced wrongful death lawyers at Renfro & Renfro offer a free consultation and case evaluation in wrongful death cases.
We serve clients in the Greater Richmond Region, including in Petersburg and Dinwiddie, and throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. We welcome you to schedule a consultation by using our online form.