Reston Wrongful Death Lawyer

If you recently went through the loss of a loved one due to a catastrophic accident, you know better than anyone that no amount of money could replace the value of a human life cut short. In light of that, you may understandably have reservations about adding civil litigation against the party responsible for your family member’s accident to your plate right now.

With help from a Reston wrongful death lawyer, though, you could pursue financial restitution for the tangible impacts your loss has had and will have on your family, so your family member’s death does not cause you financial strain on top of your grief. While your dedicated personal injury attorney is taking the lead on getting you the compensation you deserve, you could focus on your own personal needs and on making sure your family will be okay in the long term.

Filing Suit on a Deceased Family Member’s Behalf

Normally, if someone suffers a physical injury as a direct result of someone else’s negligent behavior, they are the only person with the right to seek restitution through civil litigation for the damages they sustained because of their injury. However, if reckless or careless actions lead to an accident with fatal consequences for someone involved, Code of Virginia §8.01-50 affirms that the cause of action that would usually justify a personal injury claim “survives” the death of the plaintiff for such a claim.

When this happens, the right to file a wrongful death claim on the deceased party’s behalf falls to that party’s personal representative, who would bring that claim forward in their own name on behalf of the decedent’s estate. This representative is often designated in the decedent’s will or estate plan, but if no such valid document exists, a court may assign someone to act as the representative for a wrongful death claim as well as for other estate-related tasks.

As with standard personal injury claims, a party cannot be held responsible for the repercussions of a wrongful death unless they breached a “duty of care” owed to the decedent, and that breach was the direct and primary cause of their death. A Reston wrongful death attorney could provide crucial assistance collecting and presenting evidence of fault during the litigation process for this type of case.

Recoverable Damages and Beneficiaries

VA Code §8.01-52 lists five categories that recoverable losses following a wrongful death may fall into, although it should be noted that this list is not restrictive or exhaustive. The categories named in this section of state law are:

  • Mental and emotional anguish for surviving family members, including losses of comfort, companionship, guidance, and/or advice from the decedent
  • Expected losses of financial support, protection, care, and/or household assistance from the decedent
  • Medical expenses incurred by the decedent between their accident and their eventual death
  • Funeral expenses paid by surviving family members or out of the decedent’s estate
  • Punitive damages, if the conduct exhibited by the defendant(s) constituted egregious negligence or a conscious disregard for human life

As per VA Code §8.01-53, beneficiaries to a successful wrongful death may include, in order of priority, the decedent’s spouse, children, and/or grandchildren; the decedent’s parents, siblings, and financially dependent relatives who lived in the decedent’s household prior to their death; and any other family member entitled to recovery based on intestacy laws in Virginia. A wrongful death lawyer in Reston could provide further guidance about how state statutes govern the outcome of wrongful death litigation.

A Reston Wrongful Death Attorney Could Help

Losing a family member because someone else acted irresponsibly can be an immensely devastating and infuriating experience, one that civil litigation can only do so much to assuage. That being said, holding the party responsible for your loved one’s death financially accountable for their actions could be key to ensuring your family does not bear the economic brunt of those actions themselves.

A Reston wrongful death lawyer could explain your options in detail over the course of a confidential meeting. Schedule yours whenever you are ready.