Richmond Wrongful Death Lawyer
Losing a loved one may be intensely difficult for survivors, who must deal with their loss as well as the emotional, personal, and even financial burdens it may bring. Grieving for a loved one may be compounded if their death was caused by the negligence or recklessness of someone else.
If you have lost a loved one because of someone else’s negligence or recklessness, the personal representative of their estate may be able to file a wrongful death claim in civil court. There is, of course, no amount of money that can compensate for the loss of a loved one. However, recovering damages such as medical costs, funeral and burial expenses, loss of love and companionship, and lost financial support may help survivors of a wrongful death to move forward with their own lives.
How Does Virginia Define Wrongful Death?
Under Virginia law, wrongful death may be caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another party, and that includes individuals, corporations, and ships or vessels. Wrongful death applies when the deceased person would have have been able to seek damages in a personal injury suit had they not lost their life.
Virginia law also expressly addresses the wrongful death of a fetus. A surviving mother may bring claims on behalf of her fetus if an accident or injury resulted in the loss of her pregnancy. In all other wrongful death cases, a personal representative of the estate of the deceased must file the suit.
Under Virginia law, when a verdict for the plaintiff is made in a wrongful death case, any award must be distributed to surviving family members as follows:
- Surviving spouse, children, and grandchildren if the victim’s children are not alive and are primary beneficiaries.
- If the deceased had no spouse or children, the award goes to parents and siblings of the deceased, or any other dependent who is also a family member.
- If there is a surviving spouse but no children, the award is distributed between the spouse and parents of the deceased.
As the facts of every case are unique, if you have lost a loved one and are unsure of what that may mean for you and your family based on your relationship to the deceased, speak to an experienced wrongful death attorney.
Common Wrongful Death Scenarios
Not all losses will qualify for a wrongful death claim. However, some of the most common wrongful death scenarios include:
Motor Vehicle Accidents
The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles reported 843 traffic accident fatalities in 2017, with 24 of those fatalities occurring in Henrico County. The vast majority of traffic accidents are preventable. When a negligent or reckless driver causes an accident that results in a fatality, they may be liable for a wrongful death claim.
Slip and Fall Accidents
According to the Virginia Department of Health, in 2016 more than 1,600 fatalities were caused by unintentional falls, with almost 200 of those in Henrico County. Property owners have a legal duty of care to maintain safe premises for anyone who may visit them. When an owner breaches that duty, by either an act or omission, and it results in a fatal accident, the property owner may be liable for a wrongful death claim.
Thousands of employees and workers are involved in workplace accidents each year, resulting in a range of injuries and even death. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that 118 people died in Virginia in 2017 as a result of workplace accidents. Workplace fatalities may result from slip and fall accidents, exposure to hazardous substances, heavy equipment accidents, dangerous working conditions, and more.
Making a wrongful death claim when the deceased suffered a workplace accident may be complicated by factors including whether the employer acted negligently or recklessly, a third party may have partial or total liability for damages, or workers compensation may also apply in the case. Speak to a lawyer with experience in both workers compensation and wrongful death claims if you lost your loved one because of a workplace accident.
Patients and their families depend on medical professionals to correctly diagnose, treat, and resolve injuries, illnesses, and health conditions, and these professionals have the highest duty of care under the law. When doctors, hospitals, and other medical professionals breach that duty, the result may be devastating for victims and their families. Wrongful death may be caused by medical malpractice including such mistakes as surgical errors, misdiagnosis and missed diagnosis, treating the wrong patient, and prescribing or administering the wrong medicine or dosage.
The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates tens of thousands of deaths are caused by defective products each year. Defective products may be the result of design defects, manufacturing defects, or even information defects, which is when a company fails to inform and/or adequately warn consumers about the safe use of a product. Manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, and retailers may all be liable for damages caused by a defective product.
The CPSC receives millions of complaints each year, gathers data, and warns consumers about dangerous products. It also monitors elder-related products, and public facilities and associated products, such as shopping carts. While most complaints are about motor vehicles and pharmaceutical-related products, other categories with high numbers of complaints include chemicals (fuel, lighter, and fireworks); furniture and decor; kitchen and dining; home maintenance and construction; sports and recreation; and toys and children’s products.
Contact an Experienced Wrongful Death Lawyer in Richmond, Virginia
If you have lost a loved one because of the negligence or recklessness of someone else, we may be able to help. The compassionate and dedicated legal team at Emroch & Kilduff work hard to get the possible outcomes for every case. Contact an experienced wrongful death lawyer Emroch & Kilduff at (804) 358-1568 or online to schedule a free consultation and learn if we may be able to help you.