Did you recently lose a loved one and want to know how to win your wrongful death case? Read our tips on how we can help you, then call our Virginia lawyer.
Steps in a Wrongful Death Case
Recently, a family came to see me when a daughter had fallen on steps outside of an apartment building and had passed away as a result of her injuries. When that happened, they wanted to know what the steps were. They can be somewhat complicated, but the first step that has to be taken in pursuing a claim when we have a lost loved one is to get proper qualification with the court to allow a representative of the family to pursue the claim legally. The next most important thing, of course, is to hire an attorney as early as you possibly can to establish what the facts and circumstances of the death were. Oftentimes, when somebody passes away as a result of an accident, their testimony isn’t available to preserve the specific occurrence and the conditions that were prevailing at the scene where it happened. The value of the case can be severely compromised without that. It’s extremely important to get an attorney early in the case to help you investigate, from any other source available, what you need to prove and win a wrongful death case in Virginia.
Wrongful Death Attorney Fees
When I’m asked by families to assist in prosecuting a claim for wrongful death in Virginia, often I’m asked the question of how much is it going to cost to handle that claim. As in most personal injury cases, attorneys will typically charge only at the end of the case on the recovery that’s made at the end of the case. That, usually, is the largest expense out of all that’s associated with prosecuting that claim. There are other charges that have to be incurred, for example, in investigating the claim, or in expenses of litigation, which might include expert witnesses or medical providers or other expertise that has to come into play to establish how the accident happened that caused the death, as well as what the subsequent injuries were that led to the death.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In several recent wrongful death claims that we’ve handled at our law firm, we’ve been asked the question of who the proper person is to qualify to represent the family in pursuing a claim for wrongful death. The simple answer is that you do not need to be a family member in order to qualify as a representative to pursue the claim on behalf of the deceased for personal injuries or death. However, the measure of damages is determined, and the class of beneficiaries who receive those damages is determined by your family relationship. In other words, the people who are the immediate family to the deceased person are the ones entitled to recover the damages. Oftentimes, families come to me and say, “We are so distraught by this loss, we don’t feel capable of being able to do all of the administrative tasks associated with your claim,” and in those cases, you can find an outside person, an independent representative, to qualify in order to file your claim in court.
Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations
You may be wondering how long you have to file a claim on behalf of a deceased family member after an accident in Virginia. In Virginia, we have a rule that you have two years from the date of the accident causing the death in which to file your claim. Occasionally, there are tolling provisions that will apply that can extend that time period, but the general rule is two years from the date of accident.
Wrongful Death Case Value
One of the most difficult questions we have to answer as lawyers is how we determine what the value of a wrongful death case is. Frankly, the difficulty in coming up with that figure has to do with the nature of the loss to begin with. It is extremely difficult to evaluate how much it’s worth to have lost a family member. I can’t imagine that I’d ever be faced with the difficulty of making that decision if I were to have lost a loved one in an accident. In those cases, as lawyers, we have to look to the value based on what the expected lifespan would have been to the person that passed away. The value of the loss has to do with the nature of the importance of that person to the family, and the nature of the emotional connections that that person had, whether with their spouse, or children, or other loved ones in their immediate family. It’s a very difficult analysis to make, and one that takes a lot of personal time and attention. In coming up with that figure, it’s always best to have an attorney that actually will take the time to come out and meet with you and understand your family in order to come up with the best figure and best result in that case.
Did you lose a loved one due to a personal injury and have questions about how to win your wrongful death case? Contact a Virginia wrongful death lawyer at The Strong Law Firm today for a free confidential consultation and case evaluation. Let our experience work for you.