Common Questions About Personal Injury, Family Law, and Criminal Defense in Virginia

Do you have questions about how Virginia laws apply to your situation or what you can do to reach your legal goals after an accident, arrest, or divorce? Our experienced attorneys in Fairfax answer some of the most frequently asked questions from clients here. If you don’t see the answer to your question here, or if you need more information about your rights, reach out to us today at 877-652-1553.

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  • Can there be more than one defendant in a Virginia motor vehicle wrongful death case?

    The loss of a loved one can be emotionally devastating. While no amount of money is sufficient compensation for losing someone you care about, a wrongful death lawsuit provides an opportunity to hold a wrongdoer accountable for their misconduct. However, wrongful death claims are not always straightforward. Depending on the circumstances of your loved one’s motor vehicle accident, you may have to take action against multiple defendants. Multiple defendants in a wrongful death claim

    Wrongful Death Claims in Virginia

    If your loved one died due to another person’s negligence, you and your family could be entitled to significant compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit. While many people are reluctant to file wrongful death claims because they do not wish to profit from the loss of a loved one, wrongful death lawsuits are about much more than money.

    Benefits of a Successful Claim

    • Provide your family with the money needed to pay for your loved one’s funeral costs and burial expenses
    • Hold a wrongdoer accountable in civil court
    • Prevent other members of your community from suffering a similar loss

    Although there are benefits to filing a wrongful death claim, these claims can be complex. Even if you have a seemingly open-and-shut case.

    What You Must Prove in a Virginia Wrongful Death Case

    • The person who caused the accident owed your loved one a “legal duty of care,” meaning they had an obligation to protect the safety of your loved one.
    • The person who caused the accident violated their legal duty of care by acting negligently.
    • The breach of the defendant’s duty of care caused your loved one’s accident.
    • You and your family have suffered a significant loss that could be alleviated through the award of damages.

    Identifying the Right Defendants in a Virginia Wrongful Death Claim

    Since the plaintiffs in a Virginia wrongful death lawsuit have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that another party’s wrongdoing caused their loss, identifying and pursuing the right defendants is critical to a successful case.

    Possible Defendants in a VA Motor Vehicle Wrongful Death Claim

    • The negligent driver
    • The employer of the negligent driver, if they were on the clock and driving a vehicle for work-related purposes at the time of the accident
    • The owner of the vehicle, if the vehicle was owned by a third party
    • An automobile repair shop, if a faulty repair caused or contributed to the accident
    • An automotive parts maker, if a defective part caused or contributed to the accident
    • An automobile manufacturer, if a manufacturing defect caused or contributed to the accident
    • A government entity, such as the Virginia Department of Transportation or a municipal infrastructure body, if the accident was caused or exacerbated by a dangerous road condition

    Filing claims against more than one wrongdoer could increase a family’s chances to recover damages. However, plaintiffs must ensure they have sufficient evidence to file a claim against multiple parties.

    If you name too many defendants—and cannot prove their liability—the court may be skeptical of your intent. In a worst-case scenario, the defendants could allege that you are seeking to monetize your loved one’s tragic Virginia car accident, causing the judge to dismiss your case before you ever get the chance to tell your story.

    Speak to a Virginia Wrongful Death Attorney Today

    Kearney, Freeman, Fogarty & Joshi, PLLC have served clients across Fairfax and Northern Virginia for more than three decades. Our experienced attorneys know how to construct a compelling, evidence-based case to persuade an insurance company, a judge, or a jury that a wrongdoer should be held accountable for your loved one’s wrongful death.

    However, you shouldn’t wait to take action. While Virginia does allow wrongful death plaintiffs to recover damages on behalf of a deceased family member, the state also has a strict statute of limitations. If the statute of limitations lapses, the court could automatically dismiss your claim on a technicality.

    Do not lose your chance to get justice for your loved one. Please send Kearney, Freeman, Fogarty & Joshi, PLLC a message online, or call us at 877-652-1553 to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation. 


  • Do I need a Virginia lawyer for my loved one’s wrongful death case?

    Coming to terms with the loss of a loved one can be incredibly difficult, especially if their life was taken by another person’s negligence. You may feel heartbroken while still being expected to meet unforeseen responsibilities and expenses. Instead of focusing on your family, you might be forced to deal with funeral fees and burial costs.

    While no amount of money can compensate for the loss of a relative, a wrongful death claim could help ease your family’s financial burden. Virginia wrongful death attorneys

    Deciding If a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Is Right for You

    If you have recently lost a loved one due to the negligence of someone else, you may be reluctant to file a wrongful death lawsuit, even if you are in desperate need of financial relief. However, a wrongful death lawsuit is about much more than money.

    Reasons to File a Wrongful Death Claim

    • Hold a wrongdoer accountable for this misconduct. Wrongful death cases do not always lead to criminal convictions. By filing a lawsuit, you could hold a negligent individual, business, or other entity accountable in civil court, establishing that their misconduct caused an unimaginable tragedy.
    • Prevent similar tragedies. A wrongful death settlement might help make your community a better, safer place. Your attorney could help you negotiate a policy-oriented agreement, asking that a business, police department, or city change its operating procedures to prevent further deaths.
    • Ease your family’s financial suffering. People often hesitate to file wrongful death lawsuits because they fear any legal action will be interpreted as a crass money-grab. However, you should not have to pay for a funeral, a casket, and other burial-related costs because of someone else’s negligence.

    The Benefits of Working With a Virginia Wrongful Death Attorney

    Virginia law strives to provide everyone with equal access to its civil courts. You do not need a lawyer to initiate an insurance claim, file a wrongful death lawsuit, or appeal a judgment.

    However, representing yourself has many risks. You might already be overwhelmed with grief and unable to give your case the attention it deserves. Even if you believe you have the time and energy to pursue a claim, you could be stonewalled by an uncooperative insurance company more intent on preserving its profit margins than compensating for a client’s misconduct.

    How an Attorney Can Help

    • By protecting your family’s rights. Wrongful death cases can be very complex, with insurance negotiations and award judgments all subject to local, state, and federal laws. If you are not intimately acquainted with Virginia’s legal expectations for claims, your case could be dismissed on a technicality, preventing you from pursuing justice for your loved one.
    • By speaking to insurers. If you file a wrongful death claim, you may be forced to contend with a business or city’s insurer. Insurance companies aren’t interested in making things right and want to save their shareholders money. Instead of negotiating with you, an insurer might simply make you a low-ball offer, hoping you’ll accept it quickly. A Virginia wrongful death attorney could protect your family’s rights by standing up to the insurance company and forcing them to take your claim seriously.
    • By assessing your damages. You may be entitled to damages beyond funeral fees and burial expenses, including lost income, loss of companionship, and emotional pain and suffering. Kearney, Freeman, Fogarty & Joshi regularly work with experts who could help investigate the circumstances of your loved one’s death and assess the broader value of your claim. 
    • By giving you peace of mind. Hiring a Virginia wrongful death lawyer spares you the emotional and financial burden of speaking to insurance adjusters, responding to paperwork requests, and going to court.

    Contact Us Today

    If you want to file a Virginia wrongful death lawsuit, Kearney, Freeman, Fogarty & Joshi, PLLC could help you and your family get the compensation you need and the justice you deserve. Please send us a message online, or call us at 877-652-1553 to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation as soon as possible.


  • Can I trust a VA insurance company after the wrongful death of my family member?

    The loss of a loved one is always traumatic, especially if they died due to another person’s negligence. While you’re dealing with overwhelming grief, your family might be left with expensive medical bills and funeral costs. Under normal circumstances, you might expect the at-fault driver’s car insurance company to reimburse your financial losses. However, securing a fair settlement can be challenging even if you believe you have an open-and-shut case. Trusting insurance companies in a wrongful death claim

    How Adjusters Try to Devalue and Deny Claims

    If you lost a loved one in a Virginia car accident, the insurance adjuster might have a lot of genuine sympathy for your situation. But while they may feel sorry that their client’s wrongdoing cost an innocent life, their loyalty is to the insurance company—not you or your family. Insurance companies are most concerned about their bottom line, and they do not turn a profit if they pay every deserving family a fair settlement.

    Insurance adjusters are not just investigators—they are trained negotiators who will do everything in their power to devalue or deny your claim, even when you are clearly entitled to compensation.

    How Adjusters Try to Deny Claims

    • Asking you trick questions when your mind and emotions are clouded by grief
    • Asking you to make a recorded statement they will use against you
    • Requesting your loved one’s medical history, so they can attribute incurred medical expenses to a pre-existing condition

    Since speaking to an insurance adjuster is always risky, you should never agree to provide a recorded statement or sign a medical release form without first speaking to a qualified Virginia wrongful death attorney.

    Never Rush to Accept a ‘Fair’ Settlement

    If you have a clear-cut case, an adjuster might tell you the insurance company has all the evidence it needs and is willing to offer you a settlement. However, you should never accept an adjuster’s offer without first speaking to a Virginia wrongful death attorney. The other driver’s insurer might pay you enough money to reimburse your loved one’s medical costs or funeral expenses, but they likely will not account for other expenses.

    Expenses the Insurance Company Will Ignore

    • Emotional pain and suffering
    • Loss of enjoyment
    • Loss of companionship
    • Long-term therapy
    • Other injuries associated with an accident

    How a Virginia Attorney Can Help Your Family Get Justice

    People are sometimes reluctant to negotiate better settlements after a wrongful death because they do not want to profit off the loss of a loved one. But a wrongful death claim is about much more than money.

    Other Reasons to File a Wrongful Death Claim

    • Hold the at-fault motorist accountable for their wrongdoing, regardless of whether they face criminal charges
    • Convince a negligent business, such as a semi-truck company, to change their policies, ensuring that nobody else has to suffer a similar loss
    • Receive reimbursement for money you never expected to spend on a funeral
    • Attain a sense of closure after successfully concluding legal proceedings

    If You Lose a Loved One, You Need Kearney, Freeman, Fogarty & Joshi

    Kearney, Freeman, Fogarty & Joshi, PLLC believes that nobody should be forced to pay the price for another person’s negligence. Our highly skilled and experienced team of attorneys can help you get the compensation you need to recover after an unexpected and tragic loss. However, you need to act fast. While Virginia law does not cap the damages available in a wrongful death claim, it does have a strict statute of limitations that could prevent you from getting justice if you wait too long to take action. You stand your best chance at recovery by speaking to a lawyer as soon as possible.

    You do not have to wait for the insurance company to offer you a fair deal after suffering the loss of a loved one. Send Kearney, Freeman, Fogarty & Joshi, PLLC a message online, or call us at 1-877-652-1553 to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.


  • How long do I have to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Virginia?

    If another person’s negligence caused your loved one’s death, you could be entitled to financial compensation under Virginia state law. While many people are reluctant to file a wrongful death lawsuit, any compensation you obtain could be used to cover your relative’s funeral costs, burial expenses, and unpaid medical bills. However, Virginia has a strict statute of limitations for wrongful death claims. If you wait too long to file, your case could be automatically dismissed by a court, forcing your family to bear both the financial and emotional burden of someone else’s terrible mistake. Wrongful death statute of limitations

    The Virginia Statute of Limitations 

    A statute of limitations is a special law that restricts how long a person or entity can wait to take a specific legal action. Every state has these statutes, and Virginia has them for both civil and criminal cases, including wrongful death claims. In Virginia, the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is usually two years from the date of death.

    If you wait more than two years to file a wrongful death lawsuit, the court will likely dismiss your case. Even if a judge is willing to hear it, the negligent party’s attorney will point out that you filed past the statute of limitations, making you ineligible to recover damages.

    Exceptions to Virginia’s Statute of Limitations

    Virginia courts rarely grant exceptions to the statute of limitations in wrongful death claims. However, you may be able to obtain an extension under exceptional circumstances. A judge could waive or extend the statute of limitations if:

    • A family did not discover the death for days, weeks, or months. If so, they will have two years from the date of discovery of death to file a claim.
    • A surviving child was under 18 at the time of their parent’s death. Once the surviving child turns 18, they have an additional two years to file a wrongful death lawsuit, even if the statute of limitations has already passed.

    If a case is highly unusual, a judge might allow for another type of exception. However, the vast majority of claims are subject to Virginia’s two-year statute of limitations.

    Making Sure You Don’t Miss the Cutoff

    Unless you have an exceptional case, you must file your wrongful death claim within the state’s two-year statute of limitations, and it’s important to file as soon as possible. Waiting too long could still jeopardize your claim. This is because:

    • Critical evidence could get lost, go missing, or get destroyed.
    • Law enforcement reports might get misplaced.
    • Eyewitnesses’ memories may fade.
    • A defendant could move out of state or re-title their assets to shield themselves from legal action.

    Get the Right Help in Your Wrongful Death Claim

    Proving wrongful death can be difficult, even when you have a seemingly open-and-shut claim. The court will still require that you demonstrate, with compelling evidence:

    • That you have legal standing to file a wrongful death claim 
    • Why the at-fault party had a legal duty to protect your loved one
    • How the at-fault party’s negligence cost your relative their life
    • How the at-fault party’s negligence caused you to suffer or sustain significant financial, emotional, or physical damages that are recoverable in court

    While you are collecting evidence to support your claim, you will also be responsible for meeting other court deadlines and filing rules. If the at-fault party has an attorney, they could bury you in paperwork requests or make the process unnecessarily complicated.

    Contact Us

    When you lose a loved to another person’s negligence, you deserve your best chance at recovery. Kearney, Freeman, Fogarty & Joshi, PLLC have years of experience fighting for the rights of our Virginia clients. We know what insurance companies, judges, and juries need to award damages for wrongful death. We have helped our clients recover millions of dollars in damages—money they and their families can use to pay off unforeseen costs and build back their lives. Please send us a message online to find out how we could help you.


  • How is wrongful death defined in Virginia?

    understanding wrongful deathAny 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.