When a loved one dies in a tragic accident, family members may have many questions. It is common for those left behind to wonder about the circumstances of the accident and whether it could have been prevented. When evidence suggests the accident was the result of someone else’s careless or reckless acts, the Virginia family may consider pursuing a wrongful death action against those involved in the negligent behavior.

Although someone’s death may affect many people who cared about the victim, the law places limits on those who can pursue compensation through the civil courts. In fact, the deceased’s estate, through the efforts of the executor or an appointed administrator, is typically the only entity that may seek justice by way of a wrongful death claim.

The representative of the estate may seek damages for the sorrow and grief of the victim’s loved ones, for their loss of the victim’s income and for any medical expenses incurred as a result of the fatal accident. Additionally, a successful wrongful death claim would typically include the cost of the deceased’s funeral. Virginia also allows the plaintiff to seek punitive damages, which is an award beyond compensatory damages that may serve as punishment for the defendant, often imposed upon proof of gross negligence.

Bringing a wrongful death claim to court can be a complicated undertaking. Those considering taking this step are wise to learn as much as possible about the process at the first opportunity, which is particularly important because the law imposes a time limit by which the claim must be formally commenced. With the assistance of an attorney who is knowledgeable in Virginia laws, those seeking to pursue this avenue may have a strong and compassionate ally.

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