Losing a loved one to a senseless accident can leave your world spinning out of control. You may not know how you will move forward without the person that was such a vital part of your life. And while thinking about your financial future is likely the last thing you want to do, if your loved one was a significant breadwinner in your family, it might be something you must consider. Additionally, there is the issue of justice.
If the person who was responsible for the death of your loved one was negligent—and that negligence caused the accident—they should be held accountable. Yet you may still feel paralyzed with grief, uncertain of what steps to take. Having a Chesterfield wrongful death lawyer from Tronfeld, West & Durrett handling a wrongful death claim on your behalf allows you the time you need to deal with your grief while we look out for your financial future.
What is a Wrongful Death Claim?
When an individual dies as a result of the misconduct or negligence of another, the decedent’s loved ones can sue for wrongful death. A wrongful death claim seeks to compensate the survivors for certain losses like funeral and burial expenses, lost wages, and much more. When wrongful death claims were first “created,” the goal was to provide financial support for widows and orphans.
In some cases, a wrongful death begins as a personal injury claim. An individual is severely injured by the negligence or carelessness of another. At that point, if the individual filed a claim for damages, it would be a personal injury claim. If the individual later dies as a result of his or her injuries, the personal injury claim becomes a wrongful death claim. The statutes regarding wrongful death vary from state to state. In the state of Virginia, you have two years from the date of the death to file a wrongful death claim.
Why Choose a Chesterfield Wrongful Death Lawyer from Tronfeld, West & Durrett?
Choosing a Chesterfield wrongful death lawyer from Tronfeld, West & Durrett can be a significant step in protecting your future after the death of a loved one. We have helped many people in your situation since 1972. We understand that while you may not want to consider finances right now, you may have little choice in the matter. Many people who have lost a loved one have also lost that person’s income—an income that can make a significant difference to the well-being of you and your family’s future.
Our highly experienced attorneys can take that burden from you, dealing with all the legal issues associated with a wrongful death claim. This allows you the time you need to deal with your grief and determine how to move forward. At Tronfeld, West & Durrett, we are a client-centric firm. We truly care about you and will zealously work toward an equitable resolution on your behalf.
As a small unincorporated community—and the county seat of Chesterfield County—Chesterfield is a part of the greater Richmond area. The Chesterfield County Courthouse and Courthouse Square are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Chesterfield is well known for its many state parks, festivals, and historic sites and establishments. Located next to several lakes, this thriving city is a popular tourist destination, and home to many.
Residents and tourists enjoy the local water sports, as well as the land-based activities in the area. Chesterfield is both diverse and full of history. Unfortunately, tragedy can strike those who live in this lovely area the same way it can strike people across the United States. Experiencing a wrongful death can bring pain and can feel overwhelming. Having a strong legal advocate from Tronfeld, West & Durrett can help you get through this difficult time in the best way possible.
How is a Chesterfield Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed?
A wrongful death expresses the defendant’s liability solely in terms of financial compensation, known as damages. The court orders the negligent party to pay these damages to the deceased person’s estate. In the state of Virginia, only the personal representative of the decedent’s estate can file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the decedent’s loved ones. The proceeds of the wrongful death claim are then distributed to the decedent’s spouse and children. If there is no spouse or children, the proceeds of the wrongful death claim are distributed to the decedent’s parents or siblings.
If no spouse, children, parents, or siblings are alive, then a person who lived with the decedent and depended on the decedent’s income could receive any money from a wrongful death claim. If there are no close living relatives and no person who lived with the decedent and depended on the income from the decedent, then more distant relatives like aunts and uncles or cousins could receive the proceeds of a wrongful death claim. As with most types of personal injury claims, your attorney will file the claim, and the case will likely reach a settlement before it reaches the trial stage.
The wrongful death attorney will negotiate with the insurance company, however, if the insurer refuses to agree to a fair settlement, the lawyer will file a lawsuit, and the case will be set for trial. Until a jury reaches a decision, the wrongful death claim can still be settled. How much the wrongful death claim is worth will depend on many different things, including the nature of the case, whether liability is clear, as well as the following:
- The age of the decedent
- What the decedent’s income was at the time of death, and how it might reasonably have been expected to increase over the career span of the decedent
- The life expectancy of the decedent
- Whether there were medical expenses involved before the death occurred
What Damages Are Possible in a Wrongful Death Claim?
Under Virginia law, the court will order the defendant to pay damages or compensation for the losses associated with the death. These damages can include:
- Emotional damages like sorrow and mental anguish
- Loss of companionship, often known as loss of consortium
- Loss of guidance on the part of the decedent’s children
- Inheritance loss for those who likely would have inherited from the decedent
- Any lost income from the decedent
- Lost future wages and benefits the decedent might reasonably have been expected to earn if he or she had lived
- Reasonable funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of the decedent’s services, protection, assistance, and care
- Punitive damages in cases where the conduct that resulted in the death is considered reckless, willful, or wanton, demonstrating a conscious disregard for the safety of others
These damages are meant to financially compensate loved ones left behind who no longer have the decedent in their life, not only contributing financially but the contributions they made to the household and helping to raise the children.
Who Is Liable in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
When a person is negligent or careless and that negligence results in an accident that causes harm to another person, that person may be found liable for the resulting damages or death. In reality, it is virtually always the insurer of the negligent person who pays the claim and who negotiates a settlement with the plaintiff’s attorney.
Some states allow family members to file a wrongful death claim. In contrast, others only allow a personal representative or executor of the estate to file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the remaining family members. The state of Virginia requires that a personal representative file the claim. So, the three elements of a wrongful death claim that are necessary for proving liability are:
- The death was caused by negligence, carelessness, or actual intent to cause the decedent harm.
- Surviving family members have monetary damages related to the death.
- There has been an appointment of a personal representative for the estate of the decedent.
- The wrongful death claim must be filed within two years of the death unless an investigation into the death did not determine the cause of action until a later time.
Essentially, proving liability is the same as it is for a person filing a wrongful death claim. The defendant owed the decedent a duty of care, that duty of care was breached, the breach resulted in injuries, and those injuries resulted in financial damages.
How Can a Chesterfield Wrongful Death Lawyer from Tronfeld, West & Durrett Help?
When you have lost a loved one due to the negligence of another individual, you can feel as though you are alone, with no way to turn. When you contact a Chesterfield wrongful death lawyer from Tronfeld, West & Durrett, we will advocate on your behalf, working hard to secure a wrongful death settlement that will cover your monetary losses. We understand this difficult time for you, and our goal is to take as much of the burden away from you as possible. Don’t wait—contact Tronfeld, West & Durrett today.