Wrongful death in Virginia

| Jan 30, 2021 | Injuries |

Every year, people die from motor vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, workplace accidents, criminal activity and other disasters. No amount of money can take the place of or erase the motion caused by a loved one’s death.

However, receiving money from a wrongful death suit can pay for expenses related to the loss, giving families and loved ones the ability to move forward from hardship. Wrongful death laws in Virginia provide families the opportunity to receive compensation.

What is wrongful death?

Virginia’s definition of wrongful death is the act, neglect or default of another party. Circumstances of the death would be a personal injury case if the deceased person were alive.

A wrongful death suit is a civil action. Families may receive reparation for mental anguish and loss of income. Sometimes, a wrongful death suit goes to the criminal court, where the judge may award punitive damages for egregious negligence.

Who can file a wrongful death suit?

In Virginia, “statutory beneficiaries” may file a wrongful death suit. Statutory beneficiaries are family members or dependents of the deceased. These may include:

  • Surviving spouse
  • Children or grandchildren
  • Parents or siblings
  • Any family member entitled to inherit the deceased’s estate

What are the damages available?

Damages are those issues that arise when a loved one dies. They can include economic damages such as:

  • Loss of income
  • Funeral expenses
  • Medical bills

Some damages are noneconomic. These are intangible losses that are more difficult to assign a dollar amount. They can include:

  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of enjoyment of activities
  • Pain and suffering

To receive compensation needed to help with the loss, family members must sue within two years of the date of death. If not, the court cannot hear the case