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Wrongful Death Attorney Richmond VA
Losing a loved one is always painful, but when their death is caused by an unexpected traumatic event, it can be especially devastating. Complicating matters, sometimes the deceased has been the primary source of financial support for a family; it can seem impossible to envision a way to move forward without them.
Our lawyers understand how challenging the outlook seems for families who’ve experienced a sudden loss through wrongful death, especially when they’re dealing with crippling grief. We have extensive experience handling wrongful death cases, with professional competence and a keen sensitivity to what our clients are going through. We believe there is hope for families, and we pride ourselves on compassionately helping clients to get through these trying times. If you feel your loved one’s death was the direct or indirect cause of negligence or a wrongful act, you may be entitled to compensation through a wrongful death claim. At Cantor Grana Buckner Bucci, we extend a free consultation of your case as well as our heartfelt sympathy to you. We will listen to you and help you understand your legal options. Contact us and speak to a compassionate, experienced wrongful death attorney today.
What Is a Virginia Wrongful Death Claim?
Under Virginia law, wrongful death is defined as a death that is “caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default” of another party. This may be a person, corporation, or vessel. When such a party is directly or indirectly responsible for a person’s untimely demise, they may be held accountable in a court of law and be made to pay financial compensation to the surviving family members. Compensation may include both economic and non-economic damages. A wrongful death claim is not the same as a personal injury claim.
Who Can File A Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death claim is the filing of a wrongful death lawsuit in a civil court. A wrongful death claim is not the same as a personal injury claim.
A wrongful death lawsuit may be filed by a personal representative of the victim’s estate on behalf of his or her beneficiaries. The estate representative may be a member of the family, or someone appointed by the family to act on their behalf. As far as who exactly constitutes beneficiaries, this is where Virginia law gets very specific.
Beneficiaries, or heirs, may include:
- The victim’s spouse.
- The victim’s children.
- The victim’s grandchildren.
- The victim’s parents.
- The victim’s siblings.
- Other relatives primarily dependent on the victim for support.
However, presuming all these family members survived the victim, not all of them would be awarded damages. Grandchildren are only awarded damages if their parent (the victim’s child) is also deceased.
The victim’s parents would only be awarded damages if they “within 12 months prior to the decedent’s death, regularly received support or regularly received services from the decedent for necessaries, including living expenses, food, shelter, health care expenses, or in-home assistance or care.”
In the event there is no surviving spouse, children of the victim, or grandchildren, damages would then be awarded to the victim’s parents, brothers and sisters, and to “any other relative who is primarily dependent on the decedent for support or services.” For example, if the victim were the primary provider for a niece or nephew, he or she would be entitled to compensation.
Finally, a relative is considered “any person related to the decedent by blood, marriage, or adoption, and also includes a stepchild of the decedent.”
Virginia expressly allows for a wrongful death claim to be filed for the death of a fetus. In this situation, the surviving natural mother may bring a claim on behalf of her fetus if an accident or injury resulting from negligence caused the loss of her pregnancy. By law, she is permitted to do so regardless of the duration of the pregnancy.
Virginia wrongful death law is complex, and there are further exceptions to the order of beneficiaries. If you’ve experienced the loss of a loved one, an experienced Richmond wrongful death attorney can help your family sort out these sensitive details.
Complexities of Wrongful Death Claims
In order to obtain compensation in a wrongful death case, it is necessary to prove the following three things:
- The conduct that caused the death was negligent.
- The negligence was the direct or indirect cause of the victim’s death.
- Had death not ensued, the event would have entitled the victim to maintain an action and recover damages in a personal injury lawsuit.
Proving negligence is not an easy task, and in wrongful death cases, it is sometimes more difficult since the victim is no longer living and cannot give testimony about the accident. However, an attorney skilled in wrongful death cases will be knowledgeable about how to establish negligence. Not only does it require a very thorough investigation of all the details and circumstances surrounding the accident, but it often requires expert testimony.
An established and reputable law firm must have not only talented, experienced attorneys, but the resources to gather all the evidence and bring in experts to reinforce a wrongful death case. At Cantor Grana Buckner Bucci, we have decades of experience doing just that. We will use all resources necessary to prove the victim’s death was due to a negligent or wrongful act and will fight tirelessly to help recover just financial compensation for his heirs. If you believe your family member’s death occurred because of the negligent actions of another party, do not hesitate to reach out to us for a free consultation.
Does My Family Have a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death claim can take many forms. Some of the most common causes of wrongful death include but are not limited to:
Motor Vehicle Accidents
Motor vehicle accidents are by far the leading cause of wrongful deaths. Over 38,000 people die in traffic accidents every year, primarily because of distracted, aggressive, drunk, or impaired drivers, as well as road construction. These can include truck, car, bus, and motorcycle accidents, as well as bicycle and pedestrian accidents that involve a motor vehicle.
Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and fall accidents are another common cause of wrongful death lawsuits. Premises liability refers to the legal responsibility of property owners to maintain safe conditions for anyone who might visit them. This applies to homes, buildings, parking lots, and walkways. Unfortunately, most slip and fall accidents occur because property owners have failed to maintain safe premises. If a person is seriously injured and dies after a fall under these conditions, the property owner may be liable for their wrongful death.
Accidents in the construction industry are considerably more common than in most other industries. Construction workers deal with heavy equipment, dangerous machinery, environments where there can be falling objects and other hazards, and they frequently work at heights. It is understandable that working in construction carries a higher risk of injury. But when a worker’s death is the result of unsafe work conditions, defective or improperly maintained equipment, or any other negligent cause, the surviving family members may be able to file a wrongful death claim.
Workers’ compensation is designed to protect employees who are injured on the job by covering medical expenses and lost wages while protecting employers from lawsuits. However, when someone dies in a workplace accident that should have been prevented, the decedent’s family may be entitled to more than one type of compensation. Workers’ compensation should cover funeral costs and other benefits, but the surviving family may have grounds for a wrongful death claim if negligence was a factor. Some causes of workplace wrongful deaths are improper training, unsafe environments, fires, explosions, faulty equipment, falling objects, and exposure to dangerous substances.
Manufacturers, distributors, suppliers, and retailers have a responsibility to make sure the products they make, supply, or sell are safe for use. They can be held accountable for defective or faulty products and equipment that cause wrongful death.
Physicians and hospitals have the highest obligation under the law to correctly diagnose, treat, and care for patients. Unfortunately, they sometimes fall short of this standard. Some of the most common forms of medical malpractice are misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, surgical errors, medication errors, incorrect treatments, and birth injuries. When any of these results in wrongful death, both the hospital and doctor can be held liable if they are found to be in breach of duty.
If your family member was the victim of a fatal accident or wrongful death resulting from negligence, it is your right to pursue legal action.
How Much Does it Cost To Hire a Richmond Wrongful Death Lawyer?
If you believe your loved one’s death was the result of a negligent act, you should seek legal advice from an attorney as soon as possible. The attorneys with Cantor Grana Buckner and Bucci work on a contingency fee basis; that means our law firm will only collect legal fees if we win your case. We understand you may be struggling, which is why we believe in helping our clients win their case before worrying about legal fees.
How Our Firm Can Help
Along with your family’s chosen personal representative, an experienced attorney can help initiate the legal process of recovering the compensation your family deserves. The Virginia statute of limitations for wrongful death is two years from the victim’s death. If you do not file suit within this time frame, you may lose your right to financial compensation.
Wrongful Death Damages
The attorneys at Cantor Grana Buckner Bucci can help you and your surviving family members obtain financial recompense for:
- Medical expenses related to the death.
- Funeral expenses.
- Lost financial support.
- Mental anguish.
- Loss of consortium and companionship.
In some cases, a jury may award punitive damages if the victim died due to willful or wanton conduct, such as a violent crime. Punitive damages go beyond the standard economic and non-economic damages and are meant to punish the liable party for particularly egregious behavior.
Getting Justice for a Loved One
When a loved one dies unexpectedly in a fatal accident, devastated families need help, hope that a secure future is possible, and justice so they can move forward with peace. Our firm takes the attorney-client relationship very seriously. We wholly dedicate ourselves to obtaining justice for our clients, whether that is a fair wrongful death settlement or damages awarded by a judge or jury. We are not afraid to take a case to court if that’s what it takes to get justice for our clients. We have the record to back it up; we’ve obtained hundreds of settlements and verdicts of more than $1 million. We handle cases not only in Richmond but across Virginia.
If you’ve lost a family member to a preventable death resulting from negligent acts, you need strong, smart attorneys you can trust. At Cantor Grana Buckner Bucci, we are just the lawyers you want in your corner. Do not hesitate to reach out to us today for a free consultation. We will be your voice, so you and your family can focus on healing.