The loss of a loved one following a motor vehicle crash, workplace accident, act of violence or other negligent or deliberate act can be devastating. Virginia families experiencing this tragedy may feel overwhelmed with grief and burdened with the financial impact such an event may bring. They may wonder about their options for seeking relief from their burdens and pursuing justice for their loved ones. For many, these goals can be accomplished through a wrongful death claim.

A wrongful death claim is a civil lawsuit in which the court — once liability has been formally established — considers the impact, both financial and emotional, that the loss of a loved one has had on a family. Surviving family members, such as children and spouses, can file such a claim once they have opened a probate estate for their deceased loved one. In the case of the death of parents, any surviving minor children may require the appointment of a guardian.

The survivors must prove to the court that the other party’s reckless, negligent or intentional actions brought about the death of their loved one. They must demonstrate the measurable damages they have suffered. These damages may include the expenses of a funeral and final medical costs, lost wages their loved one would have earned, and the emotional anguish of losing the companionship and support of the deceased.

Pursuing compensation through a wrongful death claim can be challenging and complex. Additionally, Virginia law places a limit on the amount of time that may pass before survivors may file such a claim. Those in this tragic situation would do well to seek the counsel of a compassionate attorney who can explain the process and guide them through step by step.

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