The death of a loved one can be devastating, especially if their life was taken by another person’s negligence. You might be suddenly deprived of a companion, a partner, or a breadwinner and have to make funeral arrangements and settle their estate. While a wrongful death lawsuit could help you and your family regain financial independence, your claim’s success could be contingent on the decisions you make in the aftermath of a tragic accident.
The Challenges of Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Virginia law is clear: if another person’s negligence costs a life, they could be held liable in civil court. However, wrongful death claims can present significant challenges. If you do not have an attorney’s assistance, your case could be automatically dismissed for a single, simple, or technical mistake. The experienced wrongful death attorneys at Kearney, Freeman, Fogarty & Joshi, PLLC give you a better chance of receiving fair compensation for your loss and can help you overcome the obstacles associated with a wrongful death lawsuit.
The Benefits of Hiring Our Virginia Wrongful Death Attorneys
- They ensure the right person files the claim. Some states allow any surviving member of the deceased’s family to file a wrongful death lawsuit. However, Virginia law requires that the decedent’s personal representative—the person responsible for settling their estate—initiate legal proceedings, even if the intended beneficiaries of the settlement are the deceased’s immediate family. The potential beneficiaries of a wrongful death settlement could include a surviving spouse, children, or grandchildren, as well as surviving parents or siblings.
- They ensure you file within the statute of limitations. Virginia has a special statute of limitations for wrongful death claims. A statute of limitations is essentially a rule that determines how long you have to take legal action. In Virginia, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim is two years from the date of the deceased’s death. If you wait too long to take action and the statute of limitations passes, you likely will not be eligible to file a claim.
- They ensure you have adequate evidence. Even if you have a seemingly open-and-shut case, the insurance company will almost certainly demand evidence that the negligence of the at-fault party contributed to your loved one’s death. You must present compelling evidence of wrongdoing. Kearney, Freeman, Fogarty & Joshi, PLLC could help you investigate the causes and circumstances of the accident. If needed, our attorneys will interview eyewitnesses, subpoena critical documents, and hire special investigators.
- They ensure you can prove the defendant’s wrongdoing. Every wrongful death claim must meet certain criteria. You will have to establish that the decedent died as the direct result of the defendant’s negligence or failure to act. While this might sound simple, you need to demonstrate that the defendant breached their “duty of care.”
The Purpose of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
People are often reluctant to file wrongful death lawsuits because they do not want to profit from a loved one’s death. However, wrongful death lawsuits are about much more than money.
The Benefits of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
- It provides financial relief. You should never have to pay the price for another person’s negligence. If that person’s poor decisions cost a life, they should be responsible for all costs, damages, and losses—not you, and not your family. Even if the at-fault party is facing criminal charges, the criminal justice system is not designed to offer financial compensation. A wrongful death settlement could provide the financial relief you deserve.
- It establishes accountability. A successful wrongful death lawsuit is a matter of public record. If your claim succeeds, it could provide some measure of closure. Additionally, a settlement could protect other families from similar tragedies. Your settlement could provide not only compensation but a promise from an at-fault business or other entity to restructure their policies to prevent other accidents.
Potential Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim
- Economic damages. These damages which are objective and have a clear numerical value. Examples of economic damages include medical expenses, funeral costs, and burial fees.
- Non-economic damages. These damages are subjective and intangible and do not have a readily calculable value. Examples of non-economic damages include loss of enjoyment and emotional pain and suffering.
Kearney, Freeman, Fogarty & Joshi, PLLC can help you calculate the value of your wrongful death lawsuit. Before presenting the at-fault party and their insurance company with a settlement offer, we will assess the totality of your damages.
- Any medical expenses incurred by the accident
- Funeral costs
- Burial fees
- Your loved one’s lost income and earning potential
- Emotional pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship
- Punitive damages, or damages designed to punish excessively negligent misconduct
Virginia limits the punitive damages you can receive after filing a wrongful death lawsuit. However, unlike many other states, Virginia entitles wrongful death beneficiaries to otherwise “fair and just compensation.” There is no damages cap for economic and non-economic damages. Your attorney can help you receive as much compensation as you and your family need to get closure and regain your financial independence.
Contact Our Fairfax Wrongful Death Attorney Today
Filing a Virginia wrongful death lawsuit does not have to be challenging. Kearney, Freeman, Fogarty & Joshi, PLLC can help you receive fair compensation and the justice you deserve. However, you should act quickly. Even if you are still within the Virginia statute of limitations, critical evidence could be lost or degrade with time. You likely stand your best chance of recovery if you take swift and decisive action. Our experienced team of attorneys can help you investigate the cause of your loved one’s death and construct a compelling and evidence-based case for compensation. Please send Kearney, Freeman, Fogarty & Joshi, PLLC a message online, or call toll-free at 877-652-1553 to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.