Losing a loved one unexpectedly to a tragic accident can leave you grief-stricken and uncertain as to how you will move forward. Your emotions may include anxiety regarding your financial future. Your loved one may have been a significant breadwinner in your family, and your finances may be precarious as a result. There is also the issue of justice. When an accident is the result of negligence or carelessness, the person responsible should be held liable.

Yet dealing with all these issues when your grief feels as though it’s tearing you apart can seem overwhelming. Now is the time you need a strong legal advocate in your corner—someone who will work on your behalf to ensure you receive a fair wrongful death settlement that will secure your financial future. A Richmond wrongful death attorney from Tronfeld, West & Durrett can make all the difference for you and your family members.

How is a Wrongful Death Different from a Personal Injury?

Personal injury claims, like wrongful death claims, are both legal claims based on negligence. A wrongful death claim is essentially a personal injury claim that has turned into a wrongful death claim because the plaintiff has died due to his or her injuries. This means that the “injury” in a personal injury claim becomes the injuries sustained by the estate or loved ones of the decedent. In a personal injury claim, “injury” refers to the actual physical and emotional injuries sustained as a result of the negligence of another.

Depending on the state, there may also be differences in the statutes of limitations between a personal injury claim and a wrongful death claim. The statute of limitations is the window of opportunity an injured person—or the family of the decedent—has in which to file their claim. In the state of Virginia, the statute of limitations is two years for wrongful death claims and two years for personal injury claims.

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Wrongful Death Scenarios

Wrongful death can unfortunately emerge from situations where the careless or wrongful actions of another party result in the loss of a loved one. With decades of experience helping affected families, we have seen common circumstances giving rise to wrongful death claims:

  • Car collisions: Instances where a person’s life is tragically cut short due to a car accident caused by another party’s negligence or recklessness on the road.
  • Medical negligence: Wrongful deaths stemming from medical errors, misdiagnoses, or negligence exhibited by healthcare professionals during the course of treatment.
  • Product defects: Fatalities resulting from defective products, ranging from hazardous vehicles and contaminated foods to inadequately designed consumer goods.
  • Premises-related accidents: Loss of life due to unsafe conditions on another individual’s property, including scenarios like slip and fall accidents.

These situations represent just a few examples of the common circumstances that can lead to wrongful death lawsuits. Regardless of the specific circumstances surrounding your case, our team of compassionate lawyers will help you find justice.

Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Claims

In Virginia, the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit is two years from the date of the victim’s death. However, there are some exceptions to this deadline. For example, if the victim was a minor, the statute of limitations may be extended. The statute of limitations has a strict deadline, and if the lawsuit is not filed within this timeframe, the right to file and recover damages on the deceased’s behalf may be permanently lost

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Who Can Receive Compensation From a Wrongful Death Case?

In Virginia, certain family members and other representatives of the deceased have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The compensation awarded in a wrongful death claim must be distributed among the statutory beneficiaries of the deceased, which include:

  • The surviving spouse and the children (or grandchildren if the child of the deceased is also deceased)
  • Parent(s)
  • Brothers and sisters
  • If the deceased had no surviving spouse, child, or grandchild, the next eligible beneficiaries would be surviving parents or siblings.
  • Any other relative who relied on the deceased for support and services and was a member of the same household (including relatives by blood, marriage, or adoption)
  • When there are no surviving family members, but there is a relative who depended on the deceased and resided in the same household, then that individual would be next in line.

If the deceased had no surviving family members, the right to file a wrongful death claim would belong to the person entitled to inherit the deceased’s estate under Virginia’s intestacy laws.

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Why Choose a Richmond Wrongful Death Attorney from Tronfeld West & Durrett?

Following the wrongful death of a loved one, you may not want to share your pain and grief with a stranger. This is entirely understandable. However, at Tronfeld, West & Durrett, we believe our level of empathy and compassion will put you at ease and begin building trust. Our attorneys are highly experienced and wholly dedicated to your best interests and those of your family. We will work with you on a personal basis, answering your questions and concerns comprehensively yet in an easy-to-understand manner.

We believe you need time to grieve the loss of your loved one, and we will allow you that time while we handle the legalities of your wrongful death claim. We are one hundred percent dedicated to obtaining the best wrongful death settlement quickly and professionally. The Tronfeld West & Durrett attorneys have been practicing since 1972, so they have a wealth of experience to benefit you and your family.

About Richmond

Richmond is the capital city of the Commonwealth of Virginia and the center of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area. Incorporated in 1742, Richmond’s population stands at an estimated  228,000, making it the fourth-most populous city in Virginia. Located at the fall line of the James River, Richmond was briefly settled by English colonists from Jamestown from 1609-1611. The current city of Richmond was founded in 1737, replacing Williamsburg as the capital of the Colony and Dominion of Virginia. Many notable events occurred in Richmond, including the “Give me liberty or give me death!” speech by Patrick Henry.

Entering the 20th century with one of the world’s first electric streetcar systems, Richmond’s economy is primarily driven by government, finance, law, and banking firms. There are several Fortune 500 companies headquartered in Richmond, including West Rock, Dominion Energy, Performance Food Group, ARKO, and CarMax. This diverse, historic city is home to many—some of whom have experienced personal loss. The attorneys at Tronfeld, West & Durrett have helped many through a difficult situation like this, handling all the legalities while you take the time you need to get your life back on track.

How Long Will My Wrongful Death Claim Take?

You may wonder how long your wrongful death claim will take to settle. This will depend on many different factors, meaning it could take only a few months or could take a year or longer. If you and your family members are struggling to make ends meet following the death of your loved one and the loss of his or her income, how quickly the claim settles can make a huge difference to you. Taking the first settlement offered by the insurance company can be tempting. Unfortunately, it is in the insurance company’s best interests for you to do just that. The goal of insurance companies is to pay out as little as possible.

Insurance companies are counting on you needing the money so badly that you will accept a first (low) offer. This may not be in your best interests, and this is where an experienced Richmond wrongful attorney comes in. Once you have a highly qualified attorney by your side, the insurance company immediately gives your claim—and you—more respect. This translates directly into a much more significant, equitable settlement amount.  Your attorney will ensure you are fully and fairly compensated for the losses you’ve suffered after gathering all information related to your losses. Your attorney will negotiate with the insurance company. However, a trial will be set if no settlement is reached, which will take longer than a settlement.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Virginia?

Some states allow the decedent’s surviving family members to file a wrongful death claim, while others only allow a personal representative or executor to file a wrongful death claim. In the state of Virginia, a personal representative must file a wrongful death claim. Any damages obtained by the wrongful death claim by the personal representatives must go to the statutory beneficiaries of the decedent. Statutory beneficiaries in the state of Virginia include:

  • The surviving spouse and children (or grandchildren, if the decedent’s child is also deceased)
  • If the decedent left no surviving spouse, child, or grandchild, the next in line for the proceeds of a wrongful death claim would be surviving parents or siblings.
  • If there are no surviving relatives, but there is a relative who depended on the decedent and shared a household with the decedent, then that individual would be next in line.
  • When there are none of the people listed above, any surviving family member—even cousins, aunts, etc.—would receive the benefits of a wrongful death claim.


A highly skilled Richmond wrongful death attorney will work hard to obtain a fair settlement on your behalf. We are experienced local lawyers who have been helping our neighbors in need for nearly five decades. Each of our partners is native to this area, born and raised in Virginia. Two partners served in the military and are strongly involved in the community. For a professional, honest, experienced wrongful death attorney, contact Tronfeld West & Durrett today.


How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Calculated?

Wrongful death settlements are calculated based on several factors, including the financial losses suffered by the survivors, such as medical expenses, funeral costs, and lost wages. Additionally, non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering and loss of companionship, may also be considered.

How Long Does A Wrongful Death Lawsuit Typically Take?

The duration of a wrongful death lawsuit can vary depending on various factors, including the complexity of the case and the willingness to negotiate a settlement. Some cases can be resolved within a few months, while others may take several years to reach a resolution.

What Types Of Damages Can Be Recovered In A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Damages that can be recovered in a wrongful death lawsuit may include medical expenses, funeral and burial costs, lost wages and future earnings, loss of companionship and consortium, and pain and suffering.

Can A Wrongful Death Lawsuit Be Filed If The Deceased Had A Pre-Existing Condition?

Yes, a wrongful death lawsuit can still be filed even if the deceased had a pre-existing condition. The key factor in determining liability is whether the actions of the responsible party directly contributed to the death.

Can Multiple Parties Be Held Responsible In A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Yes, multiple parties can be held responsible in a wrongful death lawsuit if their actions or negligence contributed to the death. This can include individuals, companies, or even government entities.

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