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Who can sue for wrongful death in Virginia?

On Behalf of | Aug 4, 2017 | Wrongful Death

When someone in Roanoke, Virginia dies in an accident caused by the negligence of another person, the loss is going to have a profound effect on many people, if not hundreds of friends, relatives, colleagues and other loved ones.

However, as much as one would like it to be otherwise, not just anyone can file a wrongful death claim in Virginia, as much as they may have been hurt emotionally or even financially by the loss of a person who was dear to them. Still, though, the idea of Virginia’s wrongful death law is to get compensation paid to the people would most likely have benefitted from the victim’s support and generosity were the victim still alive.

Virginia’s laws regarding who may bring a wrongful death action are actually somewhat narrow in that all lawsuits alleging wrongful death have to name as the plaintiff the personal representative, or executor, of the deceased person’s estate. What this means is that in most cases, a Virginia family who wants to sue for wrongful death will have to first open an estate via the probate process.

Assuming compensation gets awarded after the suit, the personal representative would then collect the money on behalf of the estate and pay the proceeds to the victim’s heirs once the estate gets properly administered.

While the advantage to this approach is that the compensation from the wrongful death suit likely gets paid to the people whom the victim would want it to go to, the drawback is that, without a cooperative personal representative, it might be hard to file a wrongful death case. In any event, grieving Virginia families need to be aware of this aspect of Virginia law when evaluating their options.