Wrongful Death Attorney in Charlottesville
The sudden and untimely passing of a loved one can be such a devastating shock. This grief is compounded when it’s a death that could have been preventable because it was due to the recklessness or negligence of someone else.
When you have suffered the unexpected loss of a loved one through no fault of his own, a wrongful death attorney may be able to thoroughly look into your case and aid in establishing whether a wrongful death claim is a viable option for filing a civil claim.
An attorney can help you to seek compensation for your loss. He can also help keep those who were responsible accountable for their wrongdoing so that they will not be able to repeat the same reckless actions in the future.
Wrongful Death Claimants
A wrongful death claim is filed in civil court by the surviving family members of the deceased, with priority given to the deceased’s spouse, children, and grandchildren first.
If the deceased has no spouse or children, then the surviving parents and siblings would be next in line, followed by a dependent family member who lived with the deceased, and lastly, any family member who was expected to legally inherit money and assets from the deceased. If there are no other surviving family members, then under Virginia estate law, anyone who would be eligible to inherit from the deceased may file a claim.
Timeframe of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
The lawsuit must be filed within two years of the deceased’s passing. The length of the case itself can vary depending on several factors. In rare instances, a wrongful death claim can be settled out of court quickly, but typically, a case can take a significant amount of time to be resolved—maybe even years.
The factors that contribute to the length of the case include how complex your case is, how many witnesses are used (both for the plaintiff and the defendant), the amount of damages that you’re seeking, and who has jurisdiction over your case.
Wrongful Death Damages
Damages that a claimant could seek include funeral expenses, any medical expenses that were acquired before death, loss of income, sorrow, mental anguish, and solace for the loss of comfort, companionship, guidance, and society. If the wrongful death was caused due to extremely wrongful or reckless conduct, then punitive damages may also be sought by a claimant.
The process of determining damages in a wrongful death claim are quite complex. Usually, a forensic economist is hired as an expert witness. Calculations will need to be made such as the deceased’s lifetime income, which involves many factors including the following:
- Educational background
- How much money the deceased made in the last five years
Other factors that are used to determine the amount of damages awarded in the wrongful death claim include any sort of insurance provided by the deceased, such as health insurance. The deceased may have provided other services to the household, so those are also taken into consideration. Economic factors such as inflation are considered as well.
Kinds of Wrongful Death Cases
There are several kinds of wrongful death cases, but typically, cases deal with car and motorcycle accidents, medical malpractice, and product liability. But if a person or entity was negligent and an individual dies, then the surviving family members can possibly file a wrongful death lawsuit.
The Benefit of Hiring a Wrongful Death Attorney
Even if you think your case is cut and dry, a wrongful death case can be intricate and complex with a lot of moving parts. It can be overwhelming to handle all the details by yourself. If you decide to forego using an experienced attorney, then you’re running a high risk that you will not be able to get all the compensation that you and your family deserve from this tragic death.
Another added benefit of seeking legal counsel is that you won’t be facing an insurance company alone. Instead, your attorney can deal with the insurance company as well as their lawyers. This frees up your time to mourn and to begin to pick up the pieces of your life so that you can start to move forward.
Although you have two years to file a wrongful death claim, because these cases can be so complex, it’s best to hire a lawyer as soon as you can. Your attorney can then begin working right away on your case. An investigation can begin quickly which means that the necessary evidence to show who is liable has a lesser chance of disappearing. Also eyewitnesses can better recall what they saw than asking them later.
Wrongful Death Case Costs
When you hire a wrongful death attorney, the fee arrangement will be based on a contingency fee, meaning that when you receive your award, the attorney fees are taken out first. So payment is contingent on winning your case. You and your attorney should determine the percentage together when you first begin to work on your case.
Other costs for your case includes paying for the expert witnesses who help to determine the amount of damages you should receive and/or offering evidence about the cause of death of your loved one. You also have to consider other fees such as court and administrative fees such as research expenses, mileage, mail, and photocopies. All these fees, along with your attorney’s fees, will be taken out of your wrongful death award.
If your loved one has passed away due to an accident or injury that was not his fault in Virginia, you need an experienced wrongful death lawyer who knows how to handle the complexities of your case. Our attorneys will work hard to get you and your family the compensation you deserve for your tragic loss. To learn more, contact the compassionate and effective Charlottesville wrongful death attorneys at Buck, Toscano & Tereskerz at 434-977-7977.