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What damages can be recovered in a wrongful death lawsuit?

On Behalf of | Nov 1, 2021 | Wrongful Death

Although accidents happen all the time, those that end up with someone dying are particularly devastating. If you lose a loved one in Virginia due to someone else’s negligence, you may want to file a lawsuit. It’s important to know what damages you can recover in your case.

Who is entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit?

Wrongful death occurs when a person tragically dies as a direct result of someone else’s negligence, recklessness or intentional act. Often, these cases happen after a serious car crash or an instance of medical malpractice. However, wrongful death cases can also come as a result of an intentional act of violence like manslaughter.

Per Virginia law, only certain people can file a wrongful death lawsuit. While the deceased person’s surviving spouse and children are legally entitled to damages suffered, the executor of the individual’s estate must file the lawsuit on their behalf. This assumes that the deceased had a will already created. If they did not have one at the time of their death, the court would choose someone to serve as administrator. In that situation, the administrator would file a wrongful death lawsuit on the family’s behalf.

What types of damages are recoverable?

There are several damages that can be recovered in a wrongful death lawsuit. The surviving family members could gain compensation for the medical expenses and treatment their loved one had prior to their death as well as funeral and burial expenses.

Surviving family members who relied on the individual for financial support could also recover lost wages, benefits and the value of the income the person would have continued to earn had they survived.

There are also non-economic damages the family may recover from the wrongful death lawsuit. Those include mental anguish, loss of companionship and guidance and the loss of care and protection.

In addition to these damages, depending on the circumstances surrounding the person’s death, the family member might also be entitled to punitive damages. Punitive damages are those that are awarded not to compensate the survivors for any loss but are ordered by the court as a way to punish the defendant for particularly outrageous or reckless behavior.

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