When Medical Malpractice Results in Wrongful Death in Virginia

It is difficult to imagine a more painful situation than losing a loved one due to medical malpractice. We put our faith in medical professionals and hospital facilities to save those we love from disease or injury. When those we have trusted instead cause their death, whether through negligence or recklessness, in addition to our terrible grief, we are overwhelmed with anger at the betrayal. Because of the complexities of Virginia law, and because the opposing side is likely to have high power attorneys, it is essential to hire a determined, aggressive Virginia law firm to take your case.

What constitutes wrongful death in Virginia?

According to Section 8.01-50 of the Virginia Code, wrongful death is death “caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default” of another party. In the case of a death caused by medical malpractice, a wrongful death claim can be considered a personal injury claim that has to be filed by relatives of the victim because the victim is deceased.

Who is permitted to file a wrongful death claim In Virginia?

In Virginia, only family members or dependents of the deceased (known as statutory beneficiaries) are legally permitted to file a wrongful death suit when medical malpractice has resulted in the loss of life. Statutory beneficiaries include:

  • Surviving spouse, children, and grandchildren of the deceased
  • Surviving parents and siblings of the deceased
  • Any relative who has been dependent on the deceased and part of his/her household
  • Any surviving relative entitled to inherit part of the estate under Virginia intestacy law
  • Any beneficiary named in the decedent’s will

In cases in which the decedent has left surviving parents and a surviving spouse, but no children, the parents and spouse may file the wrongful death claim together. Parents who abandoned the deceased individual during her or his childhood, however, may not file a wrongful death claim or receive damages. Often, the executor, when he or she is a statutory beneficiary, is the person who takes on the responsibility of filing the wrongful death claim.

What compensation can be expected if you win your wrongful death claim against a medical professional or healthcare facility?

If you engage the services of a highly competent wrongful death attorney in Virginia, one with a proven track record of success, you stand a good chance of winning substantial damages, including compensation for:

  • Medical expenses related to the final illness or injury
  • Lost income the deceased would have provided had he or she survived
  • Reasonable funeral and burial/cremation costs
  • Grief and mental suffering
  • Loss of care, guidance, companionship or consortium from the deceased

In certain cases, in which the circumstances leading to your loved one’s death were really beyond the pale, punitive damages may also be awarded by the court. Punitive damages are not designed to compensate the family, but rather to punish the defendant for egregious misconduct, as well as to prevent others from engaging in such unconscionable conduct.

Finding the Best Wrongful Death/Medical Malpractice Attorney is Key

If you decide to file a wrongful death claim after experiencing the deep pain of losing a loved one to medical mal, a great deal will depend on your choice of attorney. If you want to win the substantial damages you and your family deserve, it is crucial that you pick an attorney who is knowledgeable and experienced in both wrongful death and medical malpractice cases. It is also necessary to find a law practice that will treat you with the compassion and personal attention you deserve.


Posted in: Wrongful Death