Wrongful Death Damages
Losing a loved one is one of life’s most difficult experiences. Your feelings of grief and loss may be compounded with anger and distress if your loved one’s death was preventable and was caused by somebody else’s recklessness or disregard for safety.
No amount of money can undo the loss that you have suffered. At the same time, you should not have to bear the financial burden of losing a loved one in a wrongful death accident. Virginia law allows the immediate family of people who are wrongfully killed to seek compensation for their loss.
Attorney David B. Kendall and the staff at Kendall Law Firm are here to assist families who have been devastated by the loss of a loved one. Our Charlottesville, Virginia wrongful death attorneys offer compassion and trusted guidance to families who have lost loved ones due to the carelessness or misconduct of others.
Kendall Law Firm has a track record of success that includes a seven-figure settlement obtained for the widow of a man killed in a head-on truck collision. We are honored to have received numerous positive reviews from former clients on social media, as well as an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. Our firm believes in service. Our founding attorney David Kendall is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served as a Judge Advocate General before going into private law practice. He has more than 25 years of experience as a wrongful death lawyer.
Contact our firm to speak with a skilled Virginia wrongful death attorney. We offer 100% free initial consultations. While you are focused on grieving and healing, our law firm can get to work helping you demand justice for your loved one.
How to Determine Wrongful Death Damages
Pursuing financial compensation through a wrongful death case can provide a measure of justice and a sense of closure.
A full financial recovery in a wrongful death claim will depend on various factors, including:
- Your loved one’s normal life expectancy, based on your loved one’s health condition prior to the infliction of their fatal injury
- The earnings your loved one lost from the time between the acts that caused your loved one’s last injury or illness and your loved one’s passing
- Future projected earnings over the expected duration of your loved one’s career
- The contributions that your loved one made to the family and to the household, including chores and services that he or she performed
Virginia law allows the eligible surviving family members of the deceased to seek reasonable and just compensation for their losses. Compensation in a wrongful death claim falls into three basic categories: economic losses, non-economic losses, and punitive damages. We will explore each in the subsequent sections.
If you have specific questions about your loved one’s death and where a wrongful death claim is in order, an experienced Charlottesville wrongful death attorney at Kendall Law Firm can answer your questions and discuss the proper steps to take during a no-obligation consultation.
Economic losses encompass the financial losses that your loved one and your family have experienced due to your loved one’s death. Economic compensation can be calculated by referring to bills, invoices, receipts, pay stubs, income statements, and other financial records.
Economic losses that your loved one incurred prior to death include:
- Medical expenses stemming from the treatment of their injuries, including ER and hospital bills, surgeries, medications, or other out-of-pocket costs
- Lost wages or income from missed work between the time that your loved one suffered their fatal injury and the date of their passing
Other financial losses that may be counted when demanding compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit include:
- Loss of your loved one’s future earnings and expected financial contributions to the family and household, as well as the loss in the growth of your loved one’s estate
- Loss of benefits, such as health insurance or pensions
- The value of the services that your loved one performed for the household, such as lawn or pool maintenance, or home repairs
- Funeral and burial expenses
Compensation may be sought for the conscious physical pain, anguish, and emotional trauma that your loved one suffered prior to death. These are referred to as non-economic losses.
The eligible surviving family members also may have a right to claim non-economic damages for the intangible losses that you have suffered including grief, anguish, and the loss of your loved one’s companionship and guidance. Non-economic losses are determined by a more personal, subjective valuation based on everyone’s common experience of the loss of a loved one.
Non-economic losses that may be claimed by the deceased’s survivors include:
- Emotional and mental anguish and suffering
- Loss of love, companionship, and society
- Loss guidance, advice, care, and protection
- The decedent’s spouse’s loss of consortium, or intimate companionship
Punitive damages are not available in all wrongful death cases. Punitive damages in wrongful death cases are meant to punish the wrongdoer for intolerable conduct that caused a death. Punitive damages are awarded in cases in which there is proof of intentional or wanton conduct that displayed a conscious disregard for the safety of others. For example, Virginia law allows for punitive damages in a wrongful death case arising from a motor vehicle accident caused by a drunk driver.
In certain wrongful death cases, punitive damages may also be awarded pursuant to statutory law that allows for doubling or trebling of the total economic and non-economic compensation awarded.
Interest and Attorneys’ Fees
Families of victims killed due to someone’s wrongful behavior may be entitled to recover interest on their economic losses, measured from the time that the loss occurred to the time that the at-fault party or parties pay compensation to the deceased’s estate and survivors.
Under certain circumstances, families may also be entitled to recover reasonable attorneys’ fees and legal expenses incurred in pursuing their wrongful death claim and lawsuit.
Calculating the compensation that a family may be entitled to in a wrongful death claim often requires a complex analysis of the family’s economic losses. We may consult with actuaries, accountants, and other financial planners who can reasonably estimate the value of future income and benefits that the deceased would have earned and provided the household over the duration of his or her expected life.
Economic losses—such as medical expenses to treat a deceased individual’s last injury or illness, the cost of funeral and burial expenses, and the loss of wages or income that the decedent experienced prior to death—can typically be calculated by totaling up bills, invoices, receipts, and pay stubs or income statements.
To calculate non-economic losses such as conscious physical pain experienced by a decedent, mental and emotional anguish suffered by the survivors, and the loss of the decedent’s affection, companionship, care, guidance, or society, the family members will normally offer testimony about their relation to the deceased prior and the impact and effect that the person’s death has had on various family members.
Virginia law generally allows a wrongful death lawsuit to be filed within two years of the death of the family member. If you don’t file the lawsuit within the time period allowed by the statute of limitations, the court will not hear your claim. In cases in which the victim is injured and then dies later as a result of the injuries, the two-year limit starts from the date of the victim’s death.
A Lawyer Can Help You Seek Damages in Your Wrongful Death Lawsuit
If you have lost a loved one because of someone else’s wrongful actions or failure to act, a compassionate and experienced attorney at Kendall Law Firm can evaluate the circumstances of your loved one’s death and help you understand whether filing a wrongful death claim is an appropriate step. If Kendall Law Firm handles your case, we will:
- Investigate the facts surrounding your loved one’s death and gather all available evidence that may support the wrongful death claim
- Identify those at fault for your loved one’s death and the insurance policies available to provide compensation to you and your family
- Ensure you understand your legal rights and options, and walk you through what to expect throughout your wrongful death claim
- Prepare and file your claim against the liable parties and their insurance companies
- Negotiate aggressively for fair and full compensation through a negotiated settlement, if possible
- File a wrong death lawsuit if the insurance company refuses to agree to a reasonable settlement
- Advocate on your behalf in court.
A wrongful death claim can help a family cope financially with the loss of a loved one and also help grieving loved ones reach a sense of closure.
If you have lost a loved one due to the wrongful acts of another party, turn to a compassionate Charlottesville lawyer at Kendall Law Firm for the experienced legal representation you and your family deserve. It’s important to consult with an attorney as soon as possible after a wrongful death accident to start gathering evidence before it’s lost.
Call us today at (866) 590-9773 or contact us online for a free, no-obligation case evaluation. Our compassionate and knowledgeable lawyers are ready to take your call.