Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim (And Why it’s Important)
The loss of a loved one is devastating, but knowing that loss could have been avoided makes the pain that much worse. On top of the unmeasurable grief experienced by surviving family members, friends, and coworkers, a sudden loss can also bring on financial hardship as well as concerns over how the final expenses will be covered. These are all reasons qualified beneficiaries should consider bringing a wrongful death claim forth in the name of the deceased individual.
What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A wrongful death claim is a civil litigation the family of the deceased individual files against the party who they believe, due to negligence or intentional conduct, is liable for the death of their loved one. Some of the most common types of wrongful death claims include, but are not limited to:
- Motor Vehicle Accidents
- Bicycle & Pedestrian Accidents
- Premise Liability Accidents
- Medical Malpractice
- Overdoses & Accidental Poisoning
- Drowning & Boating Accidents
- Workplace Illnesses & Accidents
The family filing the wrongful death claim can seek financial restitution to cover final expenses, medical bills, compensation for lost income, pain and suffering, and punitive damages.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim
Only surviving family members determined to be statutory beneficiaries are able to file a wrongful death claim under Virginia law. Virginia Code Section 8.01-53 outlines who can pursue a wrongful death suit, and in what order. The order of beneficiaries is as follows:
- Spouses and children are the first allowed to file a wrongful death claim. If their parents are deceased, grandchildren are next in line.
- Parents, siblings, and any other family member of the deceased person’s household who can prove they were dependent on the deceased can file if there is no spouse, children, or grandchildren to file the claim.
- If the deceased left a surviving spouse, but no children or grandchildren, the spouse and parents of the deceased can then file a wrongful death claim.
- If there is no surviving spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, siblings, or family member in the deceased’s household, other family members would have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Why It’s Important to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
It is understandable that making heavy decisions during the time of grieving, such as whether to file a lawsuit, can be incredibly difficult. You are still mourning the loss of your loved one and dealing with all the financial ramifications that accompany that loss. However, if you feel the loss of your loved one could have been prevented, there are several reasons to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Obtaining Justice For Your Loved One
A wrongful death lawsuit provides grieving families an opportunity to hold the responsible party accountable for their conduct, and to receive justice for their deceased family member. Many family members find peace and solace knowing they fought on behalf of their loved one when they were unable to do it for themselves.
Receive Compensation For Your Loss
Wrongful death claims help surviving family members get the monetary support needed to help offset the financial impact incurred by the death of a loved one. The sudden loss of a wage earner can result in a multitude of unexpected expenses in addition to funeral and burial costs. \
Some of these damages might include lost wages, loss of insurance benefits, medical bills, and of course, compensation for the pain and suffering incurred by your loved one. Wrongful death suits can help alleviate the financial burden your family is forced to experience due to the loss of your beloved family member.
Prevent Future Losses
By filing a wrongful death lawsuit, you are doing your part to prevent another family from suffering the same heartache as a result of the liable party’s negligence or misconduct. These lawsuits demonstrate that negligent behavior has consequences and will not be tolerated. The significant damages awarded to the families of a deceased loved one can help deter such conduct from being repeated.
Compassionate Wrongful Death Attorneys
At the Cunningham Law Group, we understand that a price tag cannot be placed on the lives of our loved ones. We also recognize how the unexpected loss of a financial provider can cause a significant burden in regards to the family finances. You don’t have to go through this difficult time alone.
If you have experienced the loss of a loved one due to negligence or misconduct, and aren’t sure how to proceed with a wrongful death claim, give us a call. Our compassionate team of legal experts will guide you through the entire process, providing comfort and support to your family every step of the way. Call the Cunningham Law Group for your free, no obligation consultation today.