Virginia Wrongful Death Lawsuit Process

For questions about wrongful death in Virginia, reach out to a Richmond, VA wrongful death lawyer at CAIL today.

A wrongful death lawsuit is meant to hold the accused party accountable for both financial and emotional losses that come with losing a loved one. A wrongful death claim often involves negligence or purposeful actions that result in an individual’s death. Common cases experienced in these situations include intentional murder, auto accidents, and medical malpractice. If a loved one has passed away due to another party’s negligence, you may be looking into filing a wrongful death lawsuit to be compensated for their death. But how do you know if you are eligible to do so, and just how does a wrongful death claim work?

A Guide for Filing a Wrongful Death Claim

1) Determine if You Qualify to File the Lawsuit

Individuals close to the deceased, including spouses, domestic partners, and children left behind, can file a wrongful death claim. However, it’s important to note that there are other parties eligible to file such claims. People eligible to file for wrongful death in Virginia are:

  • The spouse, children, or grandchildren of the deceased
  • Parents, siblings, or any relative who shared the household with and was dependent on the deceased
  • A family member who is entitled to inherit the estate of the deceased under Virginia’s intestacy laws

Also, when making such a claim, you need to abide by Virginia’s statute of limitations. This means that the claim needs to be made within the legally assigned period, which is usually two years from the unexpected death. 

In order to file a wrongful death claim, the death of the loved needs to have been caused by another party’s negligence. Reckless driving or assault are examples of scenarios where a wrongful death could occur.

2) Discuss the Issue With a Richmond, VA Wrongful Death Lawyer

One of the first and most important actions is to discuss the issue with a qualified legal representative. This is particularly important when you’re not sure if you can file a lawsuit. With the help of a lawyer experienced in wrongful death cases, it becomes easy to determine whether taking legal action is the best path. 

3) Your Lawyer Will Take a Closer Look at the Claim

An investigation is vital in any legal claim. This is where your lawyer starts to take matters into their own hands by gathering information necessary to create a strong case against the accused party. More often than not, this entails working with the police and practitioners specialized in these cases. Your attorney may consult accident reconstructions specialists and other expert witnesses to analyze the incident. 

4) Determining the Value of the Claim

After gathering all important details about your case, the lawyer will take on the task of determining the value of the case. This will include medical bills, funeral expenses, and any other expenses accrued by loved ones while attempting to settle the issue.

5) Drafting the Case Before Filing

After enough evidence regarding your case is gathered, your lawyer will then file a claim with the court. The claim will include the evidence supporting your lawsuit, identify the accused party, and show the value of the claim (the amount you expect to get as compensation).

6) Pre-trial & Negotiation

It’s always advisable to settle the issue in the early stages and avoid taking it to court. That’s because it avoids wasting time and resources. However, litigation has to occur before proceeding with a trial. This often entails coordinating with the accused party to get the necessary information and context. Also, court motions are sometimes filed at this stage, and the lawyer will be dealing with the other party’s attorney directly. 

Your legal representative will have the chance to showcase the solid foundation of your case with the evidence collected. During this stage, the accused party’s team will attempt to prevent the case from going to court by offering a settlement. If their offer is inadequate, your attorney will counter the issue and negotiate for a larger settlement. 

7) Going to Trial

If the accused party fails to offer fair compensation, your case might go trial. Your lawyer can advise you to proceed to trial if they believe you have a strong case. Going to trial will typically only happen if the negotiation process is not successful. 

What Damages Are Included in Wrongful Death Lawsuits?

Once your legal representative is done filing a lawsuit on your behalf, the next step is to expect compensation for all the damages associated with your loved one’s loss. Here are some of the damages included in wrongful death lawsuits:

  • Loss of companionship and emotional support
  • The suffering and emotional pain endured as a result of losing a loved one
  • Burial & funeral expenses
  • The medical bills for the victim before they died
  • The value and services expected to have been contributed by the deceased

Reach Out to a Richmond, VA Wrongful Death Lawyer

As you can see, it is important to have an attorney for a wrongful death case. However, you need to hire the right professional for higher chances of succeeding. Filing for wrongful death can be tricky, especially with no concrete evidence. It is one of the most tricky fields in law, and so, you need to have a skilled attorney. So, look for an attorney who specializes in negligence cases or personal injury. They should be experienced and knowledgeable in this field and be approachable.

If you lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, contact CAIL today and schedule a free consultation with an experienced Richmond, VA wrongful death lawyer.