Wrongful Death FAQ
Crandall & Katt, Attorneys at Law provides results-oriented representation on behalf of families of people killed in unthinkable and tragic accidents.
We have the investigative resources and advocacy skills needed to win wrongful death cases, and we work diligently to obtain the best possible result for every client.
Answers to some basic questions about wrongful death actions appear below. Call us at 540.342.2000 to schedule a free consultation about your case.
Who can bring a wrongful death lawsuit?
Legally speaking, the estate of the deceased is the plaintiff in a wrongful death lawsuit. That means that the personal representative (executor) of the estate must bring the lawsuit.
That said, we welcome inquiries from family members of fatal accident victims who are not personal representatives. In a free consultation, an attorney at our firm can explain the legal process and other important aspects of your case. If you wish to proceed further, we can follow up with the personal representative of the decedent’s estate.
How soon must a wrongful death lawsuit be filed?
In a case involving an adult who has died, the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit is two years from the date of the death. For deceased minors, the two-year period begins on the date that the minor would have turned 18.
I am devastated by the loss of my loved one and can’t face the prospect of a drawn-out legal battle. Can I put off legal action for now?
You certainly can, but we advise against doing so. You must keep in mind the statute of limitations explained in the answer to the question immediately above this one. Also, because critical evidence can disappear after an accident, it is important to conduct a prompt investigation of the accident to document causation and establish liability.
Our attorneys can handle all aspects of your case with minimal involvement on your part. We will act quickly to preserve evidence, file the lawsuit and complete all other tasks necessary for the development of a successful case. While you grieve and recover from your loss, our firm will be working hard for you.
What types of compensation are available in a wrongful death case?
In Virginia, it may be possible to obtain:
- Medical costs prior to death
- Pain and suffering of the deceased prior to death
- Income the deceased would have earned had he or she lived
- Value of services the deceased provided to the household
- Noneconomic losses such as loss of consortium and loss of companionship
- Funeral costs
When our firm represents you, we will calculate the full value of all compensable losses and seek the best possible settlement or jury award for you.
Can I sue for the pain and suffering of my loved one?
The short answer is “yes,” the family of the deceased may seek damages for the deceased’s pain and suffering.
How are damages calculated in a wrongful death case?
A number of factors are considered when determining damages for wrongful-death lawsuits. Factors can include:
- Level of education
- Loss of future earnings
- Life expectancy
In some cases, the courts refer to “worklife tables,” which are calculations for how much an individual could be expected to earn in his or her lifetime.
Can parents sue for wrongful death of a child?
Yes, they can. But while the future earnings for an adult are not very difficult to calculate, the opposite is true for children, according to FindLaw. In general, the damage awards for the death of children are small.