Wrongful Death


Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Virginia

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The death of a family member due to the fault of another is extremely traumatic and changes lives. Many people who lose a loved feel too upset to deal with attorneys or litigation. However, a wrongful death can leave you devastated, broke and wanting justice. Our trial lawyers have represented parties in numerous wrongful death lawsuits in Virginia and elsewhere.

Family members who are left behind are likely to face high medical bills, funeral bills and the loss of a loved one’s income as well as other financial obligations.

The finality of a death means wrongful death lawsuits may result in higher payouts than personal injury lawsuits. Compensation will never replace the loss of a loved one but it can give you financial security at a difficult time in your life.

Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Virginia – What You Can Recover

The types of damages that can be recovered in wrongful death lawsuits in Virginia are set out under Virginia Code § 8.01-52. Damages may include reimbursement or compensation for:

·        Sorrow, mental anguish, and solace which can include society, companionship, comfort, guidance, and advice given by the decedent; 

·       Loss of future income;

·       Loss of services, protection, care and assistance; 

·       Medical expenses incurred as a result of negligence;

·       Funeral and associated expenses;

·       Punitive damages when willful or wanton conduct has occurred;

Causes of Wrongful Death in Virginia

Another person may cause a death in a wide variety of ways. The link between a negligent action and a death may be obvious such as when a collision is caused by another driver. In other cases, the link is more challenging to prove such as when a dangerous drug causes a heart attack or if the owner of a shopping mall has failed to provide adequate security, and a visitor has been shot dead by a criminal.

Causes of wrongful death lawsuits in Virginia include:

  1. Traffic accidents – Car truck, motorcycle, and bus accidents claimed the lives of 843 people in Virginia in 2017, a 10 percent increase compared to 2016. Wrongful death lawsuits may be brought against culpable motorists by family members of drivers or passengers who have been killed due to the fault of another driver.
  2. Boating and Maritime Accidents – Every year people drown or are killed in boating accidents on the waterways of Virginia. A boating operator may be liable for deaths on the water; another boater may have been drunk or reckless.
  3. Pedestrian and Cycling Accidents – Many cities in Hampton Roads and Virginia lack crosswalks and are dangerous places for pedestrians and cyclists. Virginia recorded 114 pedestrian fatalities in 2017, 78 of them in urban settings. There were 14 fatal cycling crashes.
  4. Premises Liability Accidents and Incidents – Slip and fall accidents are among the most common causes of head and brain injuries. We have seen cases in which people have fallen on crumbling stairs and died. Tenants have been killed by carbon monoxide leaks due to the negligence of their landlords. Children have drowned in improperly secured swimming pools or fallen from substandard balconies at hotels.
  5. Workplace Accidents – Workers in some industries face high mortality rates. Logging is the most dangerous industry in America, according to Forbes. Other professions with high death rates include construction, fishing, trucking and sanitation. Fatal accidents are regularly reported at shipyards in Hampton Roads, as well as falls from scaffolding, railroad accidents and electrocutions.
  6. Exposure to Dangerous Chemicals and Materials – In Hampton Roads, former workers exposed to asbestos at shipyards or in the construction industry are still dying from mesothelioma, an aggressive and deadly cancer with no cure. Wrongful death lawsuits have been filed over chemicals ranging from weed killers and pesticides to lead in water supplies as seen in the recent scandal in Flint, Michigan.
  7. Dangerous drugs and Medical Products – Drugs can often cause dangerous or deadly complications. Pharmaceutical companies have faced wrongful death lawsuits for failing to warn about these lethal side-effects. Takeda Pharmaceuticals settled around 9,000 claims that the diabetes drug Actos caused bladder cancer for $2.4 billion in 2015. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) claims nearly 22,000 severe injuries, including over 3,000 deaths, resulted from the use of blood thinners like Xarelto in 2016. 
  8. Defective Products -  Dangerous products linked to deaths range from defective tires that fail, Takata airbags on cars that have exploded during fender benders and furniture from IKEA that tipped over, killing children. Wrongful death lawsuits are brought against manufacturers, retailers or marketers.
  9. Unlawful Killings – Wrongful death lawsuits have been brought against cities and police departments over police shootings. Often, even when police officers were cleared of criminal charges, the families of the shooting victim made a recovery in a wrongful death case. The family of Michael Brown, the unarmed black man shot dead by a police officer in Ferguson, MO, by a police officer reached a settlement with the City of Ferguson after the death.
  10. Failure to Act Lawsuits – Wrongful death suits have been brought against authorities accused of inaction in situations such as mass shootings. Andrew Pollack, the father of one of 17 shooting victims at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school in Florida, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against former Broward Sheriff Deputy Scot Peterson, the school resource officer at the time of the shooting. He came under criticism for failing to enter the school during the mass shooting in February 2018.

Who Can Bring Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Virginia

Virginia statutes set out the parties that can bring wrongful death lawsuits in the Commonwealth. They are:

·      The spouse of the deceased person

·      The children of the deceased person

·      A representative of the estate appointed by the will or by the state.

The law considers adopted children or even stepchildren as the children of the deceased. Parents of the deceased or siblings may make a recovery if the deceased has no spouse or children.

Hire Experienced Virginia Wrongful Death Lawyers

The attorneys at the Smith Law Center in Hampton, Virginia are listed among the Best Lawyers in America. We handle all types of wrongful death lawsuit and take on some of the biggest corporations in America. If you have lost a loved one you may feel you have lost hope and don’t know where to turn. We can make the process of recovery easier. Call us for a consultation at 757.244.7000.



“Contacting us
is the first step to getting your life back.”

stephen M. smith|  Co-Founder

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