Dealing with the loss of a loved one is a painful experience, and even more so when the death was caused by the negligent, reckless, or malicious conduct of another person or entity. Although money can never replace another person, it may be possible to find justice by pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit.
Alavi Law, PLLC provides objective insights to survivors of loved ones who died because of the negligence of others in Virginia. We are committed to holding responsible parties accountable for causing wrongful deaths and helping survivors obtain just compensation. Knowing that coping with death is a tremendous burden, we offer each client caring, efficient service and work to help lift that burden.
What is wrongful death in Fairfax County?
Virginia law defines a wrongful death as one caused by the wrongful act, neglect or default of another party. Additionally, the circumstances of the death must have been sufficient to support a personal injury claim had the deceased individual lived. In other words, a wrongful death claim is akin to a personal injury claim in which the injury victim is unable to bring his/her case to court. Instead, the deceased person’s “statutory beneficiaries” are permitted to file a wrongful death claim.
Who can bring a wrongful death lawsuit?
In Virginia, one or more “statutory beneficiaries” may file a wrongful death lawsuit, including:
- The surviving spouse of the deceased person
- Surviving children or grandchildren of the decedent
- Surviving parents or siblings of the deceased person
- Any relative sharing the household with, or financially dependent on, the decedent
- Any surviving family member entitled to inherit the deceased person’s estate under applicable intestacy laws
It is important to note that the right to file wrongful death claims in Virginia follows a specific order under state law. Generally, surviving spouses, children and grandchildren have priority in filing initial claims. If there are no such survivors, surviving parents, siblings or dependants are then permitted to file. Otherwise, the final right file a claim belongs to anyone deemed to inherit next under estate law in Virginia. Finally, due to the state’s statute of limitations laws, a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within two year of the deceased individual’s death.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death
Wrongful death claims may arise from a variety of circumstances, however, the most common include:
Automobile Accidents — According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), as many as 35,000 individuals die in automobile accidents throughout the nation each as a result of distracted driving, speeding, driving under the influence, mechanical defects and other factors. We believe that negligent parties must be held accountable for causing the death of other drivers, passengers or pedestrians.
Truck Accidents — Given the fact that commercial trucks are larger and heavier than most vehicles, collisions can be catastrophic. Considering the fact that the average automobile weighs about 4,000 pounds, while a tractor-trailer can weigh more than 80,000 pounds, a collision can easily lead to significant injuries and fatalities for occupants of a smaller vehicle. Our attorneys work to hold negligent trucking companies and truck drivers liable for wrongful death.
Medical Malpractice — In Virginia, doctors and other medical professionals are required to provide the appropriate standard of care. By breaching this duty and causing a patient’s death, a doctor can be held liable for wrongful death. Grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit include misdiagnosis, failure to diagnose, surgical mistakes, prescription errors, anesthesia errors, and defective medical equipment and devices, among others.
Product Liability — When manufacturers, product designers, distributors, or retailers provide defective products to consumers or fail to warn the public about the potential risks associated with a product, the responsible parties can be held accountable in a wrongful death claim.
Violent Crimes — While violent crimes such as assault, homicide, or deaths that occur during the commission of crime, may lead to criminal charges, it is also possible to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit. In a criminal case, it is necessary to show that the accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. On the other hand, a wrongful death claim only requires showing a preponderance of evidence in determining liability.
Workplace Accidents — Construction sites, chemical, and manufacturing plants and other hazardous workplaces expose workers to falls, burns, explosions, harmful substances and other dangers. When on the job fatalities are the result of negligence, it is possible for survivors to pursue a wrongful death claim.
What are the damages in a Virginia wrongful death claim?
While each case is unique, damages can be available to compensate the family and the estate for a wide range of losses related to the wrongful death, such as:
- Loss of love, companionship, and guidance of the deceased person
- The value of lost wages and benefits, including those the deceased might reasonably have been expected to earn had he or she lived
- Sorrow and mental anguish
- Reasonable medical expenses related to the decedent’s final injury or illness
- Reasonable funeral and burial expenses
In short, compensatory damages are designed to compensate the deceased person’s family members or estate for losses sustained due to the death. Punitive damages may also be awarded in cases in which the defendant’s conduct was unlawful of egregious. Such damages are designed to punish the defendant while also deterring others from engaging in similar conduct.
Contact A Wrongful Death Attorney!
At Alavi Law, PLLC, we are keenly that aware that coping with the negligent death of a loved one involves difficult emotions — grief, anger and despair. We will take the time to learn about your loss, investigate the circumstances that lead to the death, identify the responsible parties, and move to help you obtain the compensation you deserve. Located in Vienna, Alavi Law serves clients throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. If your loved one died due to the negligence of another, you may be afraid, confused and not know where to turn. We will offer you compassion, knowledge and a superior level of personal service. Get in touch with our office today or complete the convenient contact form on our website.