After losing a loved one in a fatal accident or as a result of injuries caused by another person’s negligence or recklessness, finding a Virginia wrongful death lawyer may not be top of mind. It’s enough of a challenge to endure the grief of such a loss as well as handle the stress of the financial changes associated with such incidents. It’s important to think of your future, though, and a compassionate Virginia wrongful death attorney can look after your best interests, allowing you the space to take care of your own emotional wellbeing.
Navigating the legal waters surrounding their death – while grieving – can be overwhelming. That’s where we come in. Virginia wrongful death attorney Richard Serpe represents families who have lost a loved one because of someone else’s negligence.
VIRGINIA WRONGFUL DEATH LAWYER
As a Virginia personal injury attorney, Richard Serpe advocates for those injured due to the negligence of another person, dangerous product, or company. A substantial portion of his 37-year legal career has been devoted to representing and protecting injured children. He’s earned a reputation as a well-respected, hard-working attorney with a tenacious approach to every case he takes on. Richard Serpe has a track record of success in obtaining favorable settlements and verdicts for his clients.
Awards and Recognition
- Best Lawyers® : (2005 – Present)
- Super Lawyer : (2006 – Present)
- Martindale-Hubbell: AV Preeminent Rating
- Avvo.com: Rated 10/10 – “Superb”
VIRGINIA WRONGFUL DEATH LAWSUITS
Wrongful death is a legal term used to describe deaths caused by negligence, malpractice, or intentional misconduct. In Virginia, wrongful death statutes allow the personal representative of a dead person to file a lawsuit on behalf of the deceased. Most often, these lawsuits are filed for the direct benefit of the surviving family members. Recovering damages from the person or entity responsible for the death can help hold negligent parties accountable. Since financial costs associated with a wrongful death can add up very quickly, surviving family members are often entitled to compensation.
Wrongful death may be caused by another person’s carelessness, recklessness, negligence, or by wrongful acts. Whether the death occurs in the immediate wake of an accident or comes later as the result of injuries sustained, legal liability is what gives spouses and surviving dependents the right to take legal action. Wrongful death claims often result from car accidents (especially those involve alcohol), motorcycle wrecks, truck crashes, medical malpractice, defective products, and premises liability accidents.
COMMON CAUSES OF WRONGFUL DEATH
When someone dies due to the carelessness or intentional wrongdoing of others, it is considered a wrongful death. While not all deaths fall under this category, if you have lost a loved one because of someone else’s negligence, you may have legal rights.
In the U.S., the leading causes of wrongful death include:
- Automobile Accidents: Drivers who are drunk, distracted, or aggressive are often the cause of deadly accidents. In many wrongful death cases, motorists are responsible for the death of pedestrians and motorcycle riders.
- Truck Accidents: Tractor trailer drivers have a duty to maneuver as safely as possible and prevent accidents. If the driver is an independent contractor, wrongful death settlements may come from multiple insurance policies complicating matters.
- Bicycle Accidents: Cyclists are at increased risk of injury and wrongful death due to their small size and low visibility. They are especially susceptible to accidents involving larger vehicles.
- Medical Malpractice: Medical professionals may be held accountable for medical malpractice if they fail to fulfill their “reasonable duty of care” to their patients. Some common forms of malpractice that can result in wrongful death include misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, surgical errors, emergency room errors, and prescription drug errors. The hospital may also be held liable.
- Defective Products: Misrepresented products, faulty manufacturing processes, and a failure to warn of potential harm or death may all warrant a wrongful death lawsuit.
Additional causes of wrongful death may involve drowning, watercraft accidents, slip and fall cases falling under premises liability, and airplane accidents.
Regardless of the cause, a wrongful death lawsuit should be handled with expertise to avoid inflicting more pain on the surviving family. Although no amount of money can ever fully compensate for the loss of a loved one, a wrongful death lawsuit can provide a sense of closure that can aid the recovery process for many surviving loved ones.
WHO CAN SUE FOR A VIRGINIA WRONGFUL DEATH?
The Virginia Wrongful Death Act provides a framework to compensate family members for losses they’ve suffered as a result of a wrongful death. Virginia has a strict legal system – the requirements for bringing wrongful death cases can be confusing.
Virginia limits the individuals who can sue for wrongful death, otherwise known as the “statutory beneficiaries.” Inexperienced lawyers, who do not understand wrongful death law and procedures, frequently fail to gather all evidence of damage. Even worse, they sometimes fail to compensate the true beneficiary under Virginia law.
VIRGINIA WRONGFUL DEATH BENEFICIARIES
- the spouse of the deceased person
- the children of the deceased person
- the parents and siblings of the deceased
- any relative who shares the deceased person’s home
- any relative who inherited the deceased’s estate
Certain family members may also be able to make a wrongful death claim together.
UNDERSTANDING VIRGINIA WRONGFUL DEATH SETTLEMENTS
There are many types of damages which can be collected in a wrongful death settlement in Virginia. These damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of consortium
- Reimbursement for lost income
- Reimbursement for lost services of the deceased
- Medical bills related to the death
- Funeral costs
In instances of especially reckless conduct or negligence, a judge or jury may also award additional punitive damages. These kinds of damages seek to penalize the person at fault for the deadly accident and deter them from ever behaving so dangerously again.
We’re often asked how much a wrongful death lawsuit is worth. The answer is complicated. Calculating economic damages in such cases often involves hiring forensic economists. These professionals take a look at the victim’s lifetime income based on factors like how much they’ve made over the past five years, their profession, their age, and their education. Benefits that person would have provided their family, like insurance, are also factored into the equation.
These amounts are then adjusted to reflect for inflation and other economic factors. It’s essential to retain an expert to accurately calculate these damages. Should the case proceed to a judge or jury, accuracy counts for a lot.
VIRGINIA WRONGFUL DEATH STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
Under Virginia law, it is necessary to file a lawsuit within strict deadlines imposed by law. In many cases, Virginia provides for a two-year deadline also known as a Statute of Limitations (SOL). However, special circumstances apply depending on the location of death, the occupation of the decedent, and the application of special state and federal laws. Once you have missed this deadline, you will no longer be able to file a claim for your losses.
EXAMPLES OF VIRGINIA WRONGFUL DEATH SETTLEMENTS
- $5,000,000.00: Vehicle defect leads to wrongful deaths
- $2,500,000.00: Faulty repairs cause fatal carbon monoxide poisonings
WRONGFUL DEATH STATISTICS
Wrongful death claims involve a great deal of heartbreak and loss. By looking at wrongful death statistics, though, we can gain new insight into how and why these accidents occur so we can prevent more from happening in the future.
- The NHTSA reports that there were 42,915 motor vehicle fatalities in 2021 – the leading cause of death in unintentional accidents.
Car accidents account for a large portion of unintentional accidents in this country. It’s no surprise, then, that this is the leading type of wrongful death case. In Virginia, a wrongful death related to a motor vehicle crash can lead to thousands of dollars in compensation for surviving family members. That’s why working with a Virginia wrongful death lawyer is so crucial.
- At least 22,000 Americans die each year due to preventable medical errors.
While we’d like to think of medical errors as extremely rare, they’re actually more prevalent than many realize. Given such high stakes, it’s important that medical malpractice be taken as seriously as possible to prevent careless healthcare workers from making the same mistakes again.
- The CDC reports at least 42,000 people died from accidental falls last year.
This makes falls the second leading cause of unintentional death, following car accidents. About 60 percent of these fatalities are people aged 60 or older. With that in mind, it’s important to be thoughtful about who is taking care of your elderly family members, or whether they are indeed self-sufficient. An honest assessment of their needs could prevent a wrongful death from occurring.
VIRGINIA WRONGFUL DEATH LAWYERS
No matter the case, our team brings a high level of professionalism and experience to every interaction. Our dedication, diligence, and commitment to results is obvious, but our connection to our clients is what really sets us apart from other firms. We pay close attention to client needs, providing extensive preparation that leaves no stone uncovered.
We’re constantly evolving our investigation strategies and negotiation techniques to deliver the best case scenario for clients. Contact us now to schedule your free consultation.