Fairfax, VA Wrongful Death Lawyer

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Fairfax, VA Wrongful Death Attorney

The loss of a loved one is one of the most difficult tragedies that a family can go through. When their death occurs because another person was careless or reckless, it can make the situation even more upsetting. When this happens, family members can recover compensation from the at-fault party, holding them accountable for their actions. A Fairfax, VA, wrongful death lawyer can help families navigate this strenuous process more easily.

Although it may seem like the wrong time to take legal action, it’s essential to think of your future financial stability after such a loss. The sooner you begin talking with a Fairfax, VA, personal injury lawyer, the more time they have to craft a strong claim and ensure that the at-fault parties are held liable.

At Whitlock Law, LLC, we have worked for years in personal injury and wrongful death claims throughout Virginia. We know how difficult this time is for family members and how much an unexpected loss can affect you. Our team wants to help you navigate a wrongful death claim successfully, which can provide your family with much-needed financial support.

If you have lost a loved one from someone else’s negligence, we can fiercely fight for the compensation you deserve while ensuring that you and your family are treated with the respect and compassion you need.

Best Fairfax VA Wrongful Death Lawyer

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Fairfax?

In Virginia, most wrongful death claims are filed by and in the name of the personal representative of the deceased’s estate for the benefit of the surviving family members. In a case of wrongful fetal death or when the deceased person is an infant, additional parties are entitled to file a wrongful death claim. The parent in custody of the infant at the time of death can file a wrongful death claim or waive the right and designate another person.

A claim for the wrongful death of a fetus can be filed by the biological mother or her estate or guardian if she is incapable of filing the claim.

In a successful wrongful death claim in Fairfax, VA, certain relatives of the deceased can benefit under state law. These include:

  1. Priority will be given, in order, to the surviving spouse, the deceased’s surviving children, the children of the deceased’s children, and the parents of the deceased if the parents received support from the deceased.
  2. If there is no surviving spouse, children, or grandchildren, the siblings and parents of the deceased, along with other relatives who were dependent on the deceased, can then receive benefits.
  3. Compensation will be divided between the surviving spouse and surviving parents if there are no children or grandchildren.
  4. If none of the prior family members survive the deceased, then the wrongful death benefits will be distributed by the state’s intestate succession laws.

Virginia considers relatives to be individuals related by blood, marriage, or adoption, which includes the deceased’s stepchildren.

What Are Common Causes of Wrongful Death Claims?

Wrongful death claims occur for the same reasons as personal injury claims. There are specific personal injury claims, however, that more commonly result in death and/or injuries that result in complications and death in the future. Some of these include:

Car Accidents

While some car accidents cause minor injuries and property damage, others can result in severe collisions and fatal injuries. When a car accident is caused by the negligence of a driver, such as a distracted driver or one who is under the influence, they could be liable for the death that resulted.

This is more common when a motor vehicle is involved in an accident with a bicycle, a pedestrian, or a motorcyclist. These parties all have significantly less physical protection from the collision, so they are more likely to receive catastrophic injuries if they do not die on impact.

Truck Accidents

Accidents between commercial vehicles and passenger cars commonly result in catastrophic and fatal injuries to those in the passenger car. The weight and size of commercial trucks cause much more damage and are more likely to result in fatalities. Truck accidents can be the fault of many different parties, such as the truck driver, another driver on the road, the employer of the driver, the shipping company, and others.

Dog Bites

Serious injuries can result from dog attacks, and a resulting infection or other serious harm can lead to death. The owner is likely liable for an unprovoked attack if they knew or should have known that their dog was dangerous.

Slip-and-Fall Accidents

These incidents and other premises hazards can cause injuries like spinal cord damage and traumatic brain injuries, which can be catastrophic and even lead to death. Property owners may be liable for the death of an individual on their premises.

Work Accidents

Certain worksites are more likely to have serious and potentially fatal accidents, such as construction sites, mining operations, farming and agricultural worksites, processing plants, and manufacturing facilities. These worksites use dangerous machinery, work with hazardous chemicals, or deal with other potentially fatal accidents. Different parties may be liable for a loved one’s death, depending on the cause.

Medical Malpractice

Medical providers who make surgical errors, prescribe medication incorrectly, or misdiagnose or fail to diagnose can cause the death of a patient. When their error should have been preventable, with reasonable care in adhering to the standard of their profession, they may be liable for the death.

Defective Products

Unreasonably dangerous products can cause deaths, especially defects in cars, prescription drugs, medical devices, and children’s toys. The manufacturer or designer may be strictly liable for this harm.

Intentional Violence

Injuries from violent crimes can also lead to death, such as assault, battery, robbery, shootings, and other crimes. Surviving families can recover compensation from the individual who was responsible in addition to pressing criminal charges against the party.

These circumstances do not automatically mean that a person is liable for a loved one’s death. Certain elements must be present for the incident to result in a wrongful death case. A skilled attorney can determine if you have a viable claim. If so, they can then investigate to find the party or parties who were at fault.

Elements Required to Prove Fault in Wrongful Death Claim

Most wrongful death claims are based on the idea of negligence, which means that the at-fault party did not intend to cause harm but did so anyway through careless action or inaction. Some claims are based on strict liability or on intentional harm or misconduct. To prove that a party was at fault, the following must be shown:

  1. Duty of Care: The party owed the deceased a duty of care to behave with reasonable consideration for their safety.
  2. Breach of Duty: The party breached this duty of care, such as through negligence or misconduct.
  3. Actual Cause: The party’s breach of duty directly caused the individual’s death.
  4. Resulting Damages: The individual’s death caused their family and/or estate to suffer legally recognizable damages.

Certain types of claims will require different types of proof, such as premises liability or product liability claims.

Fairfax Wrongful Death Lawyer FAQs

Q: Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death in Virginia?

A: All wrongful death actions in Virginia must be brought by the personal representative of the deceased’s estate unless the action is for the wrongful death of a fetus. Although the personal representative is responsible for all other wrongful death claims, the damages awarded from the action may be distributed in different ways. The court may order the damages distributed a certain way, or the benefits may be distributed by covering certain expenses and then being distributed by law. This starts with the surviving spouse and children of the deceased.

Q: What Is the Difference Between Wrongful Death and Negligence?

A: Wrongful death and negligence are different concepts because negligence is one potential element of a wrongful death claim. When a party acts negligently, and these actions lead to the death of another person, they may be held liable for a family’s losses from that death in a wrongful death claim. Negligence is not the only concept that wrongful death can be based on, although it is the most common. Wrongful death claims may also be filed under the idea of misconduct, criminal actions, and recklessness.

Q: What Are the Elements of a Wrongful Death Case?

A: The elements of a wrongful death case are as follows:

  1. The party allegedly at fault owed the deceased a duty of reasonable care.
  2. The party breached this duty by negligence, recklessness, or misconduct.
  3. The breach of duty directly led to the accident or injury that caused the deceased to die.
  4. The family has suffered damages as a result of the deceased’s death.

You need to prove all these elements to have a successful wrongful death claim. You must also prove that the individual died by presenting a certificate of death.

Q: What Is Wrongful Death Action in Virginia Law?

A: Wrongful death action in Virginia law is the act of filing against a party that caused the death of another by a wrongful act, negligence, or default liability. This action is filed by the deceased’s estate for the benefit of their estate and their loved ones. A wrongful death claim is filed in place of a personal injury claim, which the deceased would have been entitled to file if they had survived their injuries.

Providing Legal Support for Surviving Family Members in Fairfax

A wrongful death claim does not recover the immense loss of a loved one. Instead, it may provide some closure and acknowledgment of the loss while helping you and your family recover financially. Contact Whitlock Law, LLC, today to learn how we can support you in a wrongful death claim.

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