Any time a loved one dies, families are faced with a distressing and emotional grieving process. To learn that your loved one was lost because of the careless action of another person can make that time even more difficult. Families often want answers, and they want to hold that person accountable. To that end, state law allows surviving family members to file a civil claim against those who caused the death.
What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death occurs, according to the state of Virginia, when a person dies “by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of any person or corporation.” The claim itself is, in effect, the personal injury claim that the deceased would have been able to pursue had they survived their injuries. Simply, their family members are acting on their behalf. The most common types of wrongful death cases include those involving car accidents, medical malpractice, and defective products.
What Constitutes a Wrongful Death Case in Virginia?
To successfully pursue a wrongful death claim, surviving family members must prove certain facts in court. These include:
- The responsible party owed the deceased a duty of care. This means that he had an obligation to behave in a safe and appropriate manner.
- The responsible party breached that duty. He failed to adhere to rules and law, acting in a careless or negligent manner.
- The responsible party’s action caused the death. Not only must it be shown that the person failed to uphold their duty of care, but that failure must have led directly to the death.
The Impact of a Wrongful Death Claim
Considering a legal claim after the death of a loved one can seem overwhelming. These claims are important, though, for both surviving family members and all those in Virginia. For a family member, awards for damages can provide vital compensation that is necessary to address the changing needs and new challenges brought about by the loved one’s death. Additionally, a judgment against those responsible sends a clear message about the consequences of disregarding the safety of the community. It may prevent that same offender from further poor behavior and discourage others from acting in a similar unsafe manner, potentially saving lives in the future.
If your loved one has died in an accident, a wrongful death claim may bring your family the peace of mind and compensation you need to begin to move forward. Speak with the experienced legal team at Kearney, Freeman, Fogarty & Joshi, PLLC to learn how we may be able to help during this difficult time.