Although the majority of truck accidents result in injuries, there are many crashes where injuries are so severe, that the victim does not survive. When a person is killed in a crash that was caused by another party, Virginia law allows the family and/or the estate of the victim to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against that responsible party or parties. Some of the damages that survivors can pursue in these cases include the emotional impact the victim’s death has on the family, as well as the financial impact.
Each state sets its own tort laws regarding how personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits and claims are to be processed. Many states have similar rules, but there may be some differences, such as the statute of limitations for how long a victim or their family must file these types of legal claims. A Virginia wrongful death attorney can evaluate your case to determine if it meets the state’s wrongful death statute.
Who Can File?
In Virginia, the family members who are entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit are determined by how closely related they were to the victim. The typical order includes:
- The victim’s spouse
- The victim’s child
- The victim’s parent or parents if they did not have a spouse or children
- Any person who the victim took care of financially
In some situations, a wrongful death claim may be filed by a representative of the victim’s estate. This could be the individual who the victim named in their will to be the executor, or if there was no will, then the court can appoint someone.
If the estate is successful in its wrongful death claim, either through a settlement or through a jury award, the funds will then become part of the estate and distributed along with the other assets to the heirs of the estate.
When a wrongful death lawsuit is filed in a fatal truck accident case, the damages that can be included in this action include the following:
- Any medical expenses incurred trying to save the victim’s life, including ambulance transportation, emergency room treatment, surgeries, and hospitalizations
- Loss of the victim’s income and benefits. This is often calculated up to the age the victim would have retired at
- The pain and suffering the victim endured from the time of the crash until they died
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Emotional anguish and grief the survivors suffered over the victim’s death
- Loss of guidance and support the victim provided his or her loved ones
- Loss of companionship
If there have been criminal charges filed against the truck driver, such as in a drunk driving accident, it is important for family members to realize that these proceedings would be totally separate from any civil wrongful death action the family may file. It is not necessary for the criminal case to be resolved before filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
Speak with a Skilled and Compassionate Virginia Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
Families who have lost a loved one due to the negligent or reckless actions of another person should consider contacting a Virginia wrongful death attorney to discuss what legal recourse they may have for their pain and loss. Our legal team will work diligently to get your family the financial justice you deserve. Call our office today to schedule a free and confidential case evaluation.
Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp also offers a free wrongful death guide for families who have lost a loved one in an accident. The guide covers topics such as the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim, what types of damages can be pursued, and who can be appointed as a personal representative.