Most Virginians find the loss of a loved one difficult. Acceptance can be even tougher if the death was due to negligence. That is often the case in motor vehicle and workplace accidents and cases of medical negligence. Fortunately, Virginia's laws permit family members to pursue wrongful death claims that can provide compensation for financial damages suffered because of the death.
Where can wrongful death laws be found? These laws are contained in Virginia Statutes 8.01-50. Anyone who files a lawsuit must meet the conditions described in them. According to the statutes, a wrongful death is the death of a victim caused by a wrongful act or omission by another party. A wrongful death action must be brought against the other party within 2 years from the time of the victim's death as covered in Virginia Statutes 8.01-244.
What can compensation be awarded for? Compensation can be awarded for medical expenses incurred up to the point of the victim's death and the victim's funeral expenses. In addition, a survivor can seek compensation for the victim's mental pain and suffering experienced before death and loss of companionship. Compensation can also include financial losses survivors are expected to sustain due to lost income from the person who died.
What other considerations do these laws cover? Wrongful death laws are also applicable in the deaths of unborn children, except if they died from legal abortions or routine medical procedures. A mother cannot be held liable for the death of her unborn child except if she is guilty of another crime.
Once compensation is finalized, a judge determines the ratio in which it will be distributed among the survivors. In wrongful death cases, a spouse, children and parents are eligible for a share of compensation after legal expenses and other legal costs have been deducted.
Source: VA.us, "Action for death by wrongful act; how and when to be brought," accessed on Jan. 15, 2015