Nobody deserves to face the prospect of losing a loved one due to another person’s negligence or intentional actions. The pain of loss is unbearable enough without the sense of injustice that accompanies such circumstances. But when the unthinkable does happen, Virginia law allows eligible surviving family members to recover compensation for their losses via a wrongful death lawsuit. Understanding how the courts calculate damages in these cases can help you know what your rights are and what to expect as you make your way through this challenging time.
Your Loved One’s Medical Bills
One element of a wrongful death claim is any medical expenses incurred in an attempt to save your loved one’s life. These costs may include:
- Ambulance transportation
- Emergency room treatment
Keep careful records of all bills and expenses related to your loved one’s care, as you will need to provide documentation of these costs. The at-fault party may be required to reimburse you for these sizable bills.
Funeral and Burial Costs
You can also claim compensation for reasonable funeral and burial expenses, including the costs of the funeral service, burial plot, headstone, flowers, transportation, and any other direct costs related to laying your loved one to rest. Save all invoices and receipts to prove these expenses.
Loss of Income
If your loved one supported you through their employment at the time of their death, you can seek damages for their lost income. The value of this loss is calculated based on their earning history, income projections, work-life expectancy, and other relevant financial factors. If your loved one was unemployed but supported the family in other ways, you could seek compensation for the cost of replacing this unpaid labor.
Loss of Protection, Care, and Assistance
In addition to financial support, you may have relied on your loved one for companionship, caretaking, household help, transportation, parenting, and guidance. The loss of these intangible benefits can be calculated and included in your claim. Keep a diary for several weeks detailing all the tasks, help, and support you are missing on a daily basis.
Pain, Suffering, and Mental Anguish
Losing a loved one unexpectedly is incredibly traumatic. Virginia courts allow you to claim compensation for the emotional distress, pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of companionship you have endured. Be prepared to explain how this loss has affected you and your family mentally and emotionally.
If the at-fault party’s actions showed a reckless disregard for life or safety, the court may award you punitive damages above and beyond the direct losses. These are intended to punish wrongdoers for egregious conduct rather than to offset a specific loss you suffered.
Who Is Eligible to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Virginia?
Only the personal representative of the deceased – also called their executor – can file a wrongful death claim in Virginia. However, the money recovered by a successful claim goes to the deceased’s beneficiaries, who could include any of the following:
- Other relatives dependent on the decedent
- Beneficiaries named in the will
Anyone who was financially dependent on the deceased may be able to recover compensation even if not strictly related. Consulting a wrongful death lawyer is the best way to understand your eligibility and legal rights.
Contact a Wrongful Death Attorney in Fairfax, VA
Calculating the value of a wrongful death claim can be challenging, particularly when you are still grieving the sudden loss of a loved one. An experienced Fairfax personal injury attorney can help you understand how much you could be entitled to. The wrongful death lawyers at Whitestone Young, PA, will investigate the incident that led to your loved one’s death, identify the at-fault party or parties, and calculate the value of your losses. We will fight passionately for every penny you deserve under Virginia law. Contact our team today for a free consultation to learn more about how we can assist you.