Wrongful Death Lawyer in Charlottesville, VA

man holding a coffin at funeral.

When someone dies as a result of the recklessness or carelessness of another, a wrongful death lawsuit may be in order. A wrongful death lawsuit is filed in civil court by the heirs of an individual who died and seeks compensation for the loss.

Talking with an attorney may be the last thing on your mind after the unexpected loss of a loved one. It is in your best interest to have a compassionate lawyer review the situation and discuss your legal options. Your family should not have to endure financial hardship due to the loss of a loved one. The Virginia wrongful death lawyers at Kendall Law Firm have handled numerous wrongful death cases for families struggling after the loss of a loved one. Our attorneys understand the emotional toll these tragedies take on families, and we want to help.

Attorney David B. Kendall and the staff at Kendall Law Firm are here to assist families devastated by the unexpected loss of a loved one. David Kendall is a former Judge Advocate General with the U.S. Marines and has more than 25 years of experience as a wrongful death lawyer. You can seek justice for your loved one by holding the negligent party accountable, and the compensation can offset financial losses. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, call the Virginia wrongful death attorneys at Kendall Law today at 866-590-6409.

What is a Wrongful Death Claim?

A wrongful death lawsuit is brought against a defendant who has caused a person’s death, either through negligence or an intentional act. Wrongful death claims allow certain family members of the deceased person to file a lawsuit against the party or parties liable for the death.

In Virginia, wrongful death lawsuits are typically filed by a representative of the deceased’s estate on behalf of surviving family members who were affected by their loved one’s passing. While the concept of wrongful death may seem straightforward, these claims can be complex. Contacting a knowledgeable attorney who handles wrongful death claims is essential.

To hold the defendant liable with a wrongful death lawsuit, the plaintiffs must show that the defendant owed the victim a duty of care, that the defendant breached this duty, the breach of duty caused the death, and the damages they are seeking to recover were caused by this breach.

Causes of Wrongful Death Claims

Wrongful death occurs when a person dies because of the negligent action or inaction of another party. Wrongful death claims are handled in civil court in Virginia.

Common types of accidents that may cause a wrongful death include:

  • Car accidents. Car accidents are the most common cause of wrongful death cases. The vast majority of car accident fatalities are caused by a driver’s negligent behavior, such as speeding, running stoplights, driving while under the influence and driving while distracted.
  • Truck Accidents. Truck accidents are more likely to be deadly than car accidents because semi-trucks are much larger and heavier. Truck accidents are often the result of the truck driver speeding, driving too fast for traffic conditions, tailgating, making improper lane changes, or driving while excessively fatigued. A fatal truck accident also may result from a trucking company’s failure to address mechanical issues or due to defective parts on the truck.
  • Pedestrian accidents. Pedestrian accidents are often caused by drivers’ failure to stay alert for pedestrians and to yield the right of way to pedestrians in crosswalks.
  • Work accidents. With all the construction jobs in the greater Charlottesville area, there is no shortage of dangerous workplaces. Whether a deadly accident happens on a construction site, or in any other work environment, it may result in a wrongful death claim against a party other than the deceased worker’s employer.
  • Defective products. If someone dies because of a defective product, the manufacturer of that product may be held liable. Unsafe vehicles, defective medical devices, deadly prescription drugs, contaminated foods, and dangerous children’s toys are examples of the types of products that may give rise to a wrongful death claim.
  • Dog bites. Fatal injuries can result from an unprovoked dog bite or attack that occurs because the dog’s owner fails to follow leash laws or reasonably restrain the animal.
  • Medical malpractice. Doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals have a duty to follow the recognized standard of care in providing medical care. Providers who fail to order proper diagnostic tests or do what a reasonably prudent health care professional would have done in a similar situation may be found to have violated the standard of care. Health care professionals who misdiagnose, fail to diagnose, or commit preventable medical errors that lead to a patient’s death may be held accountable for their negligence.
  • Nursing home abuse. The sad reality is that many nursing homes fail to provide adequate care to the elderly patients under their care. Because the elderly in nursing homes are often frail, even a minor injury caused by a negligence can be fatal.

Remember that any accident where a party didn’t take the proper care, and someone was killed, can be a wrongful death.

The Charlottesville wrongful death lawyers at Kendall Law can investigate the death of your loved one and seek answers as to what really happened. We understand that no two accidents are alike, and every wrongful death claim has its own unique set of facts. Our experienced and knowledgeable attorneys have what it takes to handle the complicated legal questions that wrongful death cases present.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Virginia?

Virginia law states that only surviving family members defined as statutory beneficiaries can file a wrongful death lawsuit. Virginia Code § 8.01-53 lists the people who can benefit from a wrongful death lawsuit.

In Virginia, wrongful death suits are filed by the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate on behalf of the statutory beneficiaries. The beneficiaries are:

  • Spouses and children have the first right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. If their parent is deceased, grandchildren can file the suit.
  • If there is no spouse, and no children or grandchildren, the parents, brothers, sisters, and any other family member in the deceased person’s household who was dependent on them can file suit.
  • If the deceased individual left a spouse but no children or grandchildren, the spouse and the deceased person’s parents can file suit.
  • If the deceased individual left none of the aforementioned family members, other family members who would inherit the estate would have the right to file a suit.

It’s worth noting that if the court finds that the parents had abandoned the deceased person during their childhood, the court may decline to give the wrongful death award to the surviving parents.

Determining who can file a wrongful death lawsuit is complex. If you need to file a wrongful death claim, allow the experienced personal injury lawyers at Kendall Law Firm help you navigate the process.

In Virginia, a wrongful death lawsuit has to be filed within two years of the death of the family member. If you don’t file the lawsuit within the time allowed, the court will not hear your claim. This time limit is known as the statute of limitations. In cases where the victim is injured first then dies later due to their injuries, the two-year limit starts from the date of the victim’s death, rather than from the date that the accident occurred.

Types of Damages that Can Be Recovered from a Wrongful Death Claim

The Charlottesville wrongful death lawyers at Kendall Law Firm knows will thoroughly investigate your situation, assess all the ways you and your family have been affected by the tragic loss and seek the maximum compensation available.

In Virginia, there is no cap on damages (other than punitive damages) for wrongful death claims, unless the death resulted from medical malpractice. When evaluating your wrongful death claim, your attorney will consider all expenses and losses, including:

  • Hospital bills and medical treatment for your loved one’s care
  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Services the deceased would have rendered for the family such as protection and care
  • Pain and suffering and mental anguish for the loss of a loved one
  • Loss of the loved one’s companionship
  • Any loss of income from the deceased

A compassionate wrongful death attorney can be a source of support for you and your family following the loss of your loved one. Let an attorney shoulder the burden of all the legal tasks and procedures required in a wrongful death case. This will allow you to grieve and begin the healing process.

Contact an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney in Virginia

wrongful death lawIf you are dealing with the overwhelming loss of a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, you may be unsure how to proceed with a wrongful death claim. The compassionate and experienced wrongful death attorneys at Kendall Law can evaluate the circumstances of your loved one’s death and discuss your legal rights at no charge. In a wrongful death lawsuit, we can guide you through the process and advocate on your behalf. While nothing can replace your loved one, the Virginia legal system does allow you to recover compensation so that your family doesn’t suffer financial harm in addition to your loved one’s loss. To schedule a free consultation, call the Charlottesville wrongful death lawyers at Kendall Law today at (866) 590-9773.

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