Losing a loved one is almost always devastating, especially if they die unexpectedly due to another person’s negligence. You may consider filing a wrongful death lawsuit but feel uncertain about how to take legal action. While filing a lawsuit may be an emotionally difficult decision, a settlement offers your family the chance to not only recover fair compensation for your loss but to ensure that nobody else is hurt by a negligent person’s bad practices.
Wrongful Death Claims in Virginia
Virginia does not allow just anyone to file a wrongful death lawsuit: the only people entitled to file are those considered “statutory beneficiaries” under state law. While this definition most often applies to a deceased person’s surviving spouse, children, or parents, it can be expanded to other, more distant relatives, too.
One reason Virginia has this law is because it understands the immense damage an unexpected death can have on a family and wants to make sure that the people who relied the most on the deceased have the means to recover.
A wrongful death lawsuit, after all, is about much more than getting a monetary settlement. For many people, it represents a way to:
- Minimize their economic loss. An unexpected death is heart-wrenching, and it’s also often expensive. Aside from any hospital bills your loved one may have incurred, you may have also had to pay out of pocket for the funeral costs. Additionally, you may have also lost an important source of income, making it more difficult for you to raise a child or reach retirement.
- Hold a negligent person accountable. Many wrongful death cases are filed without any accompanying criminal prosecution. If the local prosecutor cannot take action, a family may have to pursue justice on their own. Even if criminal charges have been filed, there is no guarantee that a conviction will yield reasonable restitution or an order for a negligent company or practice to change dangerous policies. A finding of negligence can prevent another loss, both by serving as a financial deterrent and demanding that an individual, business, or other entity change its practices or policies as part of the agreement.
Additionally, the family may get closure when there is a court judgment against the person responsible for their loved one’s death. No matter your motivation, your case is unique and deserves to be given careful consideration. A wrongful death attorney can help identify and address your needs and create the best strategy for your family’s financial recovery.
The Disadvantages of Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Filing a wrongful death lawsuit can also have some drawbacks:
- Whether your loved one passed away recently or years ago, taking legal action can exacerbate your grief and make it harder to move on.
- The other party’s attorneys may accuse you of pursuing a settlement for an injury or death nobody could have prevented.
- Many people mistakenly believe that filing a wrongful death lawsuit means they are assigning a monetary value to their loss.
Contact Us Today
People say that time heals all wounds. Sometimes, though, time can make them worse. In Virginia, filing a wrongful death lawsuit is a time-sensitive matter: if you don’t take swift action, the state’s statute of limitations may pass, preventing you from ever getting the help you need—even if yours should have been an open-and-shut case.
Kearney, Freeman, Fogarty & Joshi can help you get not just the money you need to recover but the closure and justice you deserve. Send us a message online to schedule your consultation today. You will not have to pay anything to talk to us, to file a case, or pursue the responsible party in court. We will never ask you for money out of pocket, and we only get paid if you do.