In Virginia, 783 crashes killed 839 persons in a single year. After such fatal car accidents, the victim’s family may struggle to recover. When you lose a loved one, you lose companionship and emotional support, but you also lose so much more: the decedent’s financial assistance, contributions to the family, and potential. A wrongful death claim will not bring them back, but it can help restore some of your family’s financial stability in the aftermath of a fatal car accident.
Do You Have a Wrongful Death Claim?If you’ve lost a loved one in a fatal car accident, you may struggle to determine whether you’re eligible to file a wrongful death claim. You should always consult a qualified attorney to determine your eligibility. However, asking several key questions can help you figure out whether you have a claim, including:
- Who was responsible for the accident? If your loved one caused the fatal accident, damages related to his or her death may not be recoverable. On the other hand, if someone else caused the accident, you may have grounds for a wrongful death claim.
- Would you have had grounds for a personal injury lawsuit if your loved one had survived? Often, the easiest way to determine if you have a wrongful death claim starts with examining grounds for a personal injury lawsuit. Did someone else cause the accident or their injuries? Did your loved one carry at least 50 percent of the blame? If your loved one could have filed a personal injury lawsuit had he or she survived, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim after the accident.
- What is your relationship to the deceased? Typically, immediate family can file a wrongful death claim after a fatal car accident. Immediate family may include parents of a minor child, a decedent’s spouse if married, or elderly parents who depended on an adult child for a large percentage of their financial support. The surviving minor children of a parent killed in an accident may also file a wrongful death claim, depending on the circumstances.
What Does a Wrongful Death Claim Cover?A wrongful death claim is meant to help with some of the financial struggles that accompany the loss of a loved one. These aspects may include:
- Lost income potential from the decedent, usually calculated as the amount he or she was making at the time of the accident.
- Loss of services provided by the deceased, including childcare and running the home.
- Loss of consortium or companionship provided by a spouse.
- Loss of support, including child support to a minor child or support provided to aging parents.