Virginia law provides compensation for wrongful death caused by vehicle accidents, patient falls, other medical malpractice, defective products or other negligence. A wrongful death action must be brought by the personal representative of the deceased’s estate, i.e., the administrator, administratrix, executor or executrix. Generally any Virginia wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within two years of death, though there are some very limited exceptions.
Virginia statute specifies a jury or judge may award compensation for the damages of wrongful death. Those include, but are not limited to: (1) sorrow, mental anguish and solace of certain family members; (2) loss of income of the deceased; (3) services, protection, care and assistance of the deceased to those family members; (4) hospital and other healthcare expenses of the deceased; (5) funeral expenses; and for willfulness, wantonness or recklessness showing conscious disregard for the deceased’s safety (6) punitive damages up to $350,000.00. Solace of family members includes loss of society, companionship, comfort, guidance, kindly offices and advice of the deceased.
Family members entitled to compensation in Virginia wrongful death cases are classes of so-called “statutory beneficiaries”. The primary class consists of any surviving spouse, all surviving children and any child of a predeceaseing child of the deceased. If nobody is in that class, the secondary class is any parent, any sibling, and any other relative living with and finically dependent on the deceased. Adopted children and step-siblings are covered. See generally, Va. Code Ann. 8.01-50, et seq.
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