The loss of a loved one is one of life’s deepest pains. Worse yet is the feeling that what happened could have been prevented. A personal injury attorney from our firm can skillfully pursue the complexities of a deceased injury victim. Thorough investigation and a tenacious pursuit of justice are necessary to uncover the truth and hold negligent and reckless parties accountable. Rutter Mills, a Virginia wrongful death law firm, has the experience and resources necessary to win your case.
Situations That Lead To Wrongful Death
Legally, a wrongful death is a fatality caused by another person’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct. Several circumstances can lead to a wrongful death claim. Among them:
- Assaults and shootings
- Bicycle accidents
- Boating or shipyard accidents
- Car accidents
- Construction site accidents
- Defective drugs
- Defective products
- Dog attacks
- Hazardous chemical exposure
- Medical malpractice
- Motorcycle accidents
- Nursing home abuse and neglect
- Pedestrian accidents
- Premises liability (slip, trip, and falls or drownings)
- Truck accidents
- Workplace accidents
The death may occur immediately or later– after suffering from injuries sustained during a sudden accident or violent encounter. Even if you’re not 100% sure what happened to cause the accident, it’s worth speaking with a wrongful death attorneyif something doesn’t sit quite right with you. Police officers don’t always have the manpower or capital to launch a full-scale investigation.
Who Can Be Held Liable for a Wrongful Death?
Not all accidents, medical errors, or workplace incidents constitute “wrongful deaths.” The circumstances vary from case to case, but experienced wrongful death lawyers will explore liability issues such as:
- Explicit or implied “duty of care”
- Evidence that laws were broken at the time
- Hiring, training, and supervisory practices
- Indicators that the defendant knew or should’ve known about a hazardous condition
- Internal documents that reveal carelessness, negligence, or willful misconduct
Virginia allows multiple parties to be held liable in a wrongful death lawsuit. For example, if a drowsy trucker falls asleep at the wheel, striking and killing your loved one, you can hold him accountable for falling asleep. You could also hold the trucking firm accountable if they may have pressured drivers to work beyond the legal limit of hours and or possibly falsified records to keep their jobs.
Damages Sought in Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Rutter Mills personal injury lawyers in Norfolk, Newport News, Virginia, and Hampton Roads are skilled negotiators and litigators who focus on the emotional needs of the grieving family first and aggressive pursuit of maximum financial compensation next. Damages pursued in wrongful death lawsuits include:
- Grief, anguish, sorrow, and emotional trauma.
- Income lost as a result of a loved one’s death.
- Funeral and burial expenses.
- Loss of services, care, protection, assistance, and companionship.
- Medical bills.
- Punitive damages.
While hospital, funeral, and burial bills are easily tabulated, other losses are estimated. A good attorney may bring in experts like forensic economists to help determine how much income might have accrued, had the decedent survived. Mental health experts can testify as to how surviving family members have suffered anguish and trauma. Punitive damages in cases of gross misconduct or negligence can easily double or even triple the amount of money your family receives. So, you want a team that is experienced in fighting for these types of damages. While no amount of money will bring your loved one back, financial freedom will allow your family to grieve in peace without worrying about how the next bill will get paid.
Should You File A Survival Cause of Action Too?
If your loved one survived with serious injuries for an extended period before passing away, you might feel angry about all the undue suffering. You may want to seek justice on the decedent’s behalf. Filing a survival cause of action on top of the wrongful death can recover damages related to your loved one’s medical bills, lost earnings, and pain and suffering. This is similar to what the person could have expected from a personal injury lawsuit had they survived. A successful cause of action is dispersed through the decedent’s estate, rather than given directly to surviving family members as a wrongful death suit would be.
Who Can Bring A Wrongful Death Claim
When you hire a personal injury attorney, that person becomes a legal personal representative of the victim’s surviving family members and estate. Statutory beneficiaries may then be listed in the wrongful death claim:
- A spouse (if married) and children of the decedent.
- If their parents are deceased, grandchildren may file.
- If there is no spouse, children, or grandchildren, the parent(s), brothers, and sisters may file.
- Dependent relatives within the household– related by blood, marriage, or adoption– can be included.
- Heirs to the estate under Virginia’s intestacy law can file if there are no other legitimate survivors.
It is important to consider all who may wish to be included, as only one wrongful death claim may be filed per decedent. Be sure to contact a wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible to initiate your claim. The personal representative of the deceased has no more than two years after the death to file the paperwork with the State of Virginia. Missing the statute of limitations offers the defense an easy path to summary judgment, where a judge outright denies your claim to pursue compensation.
What Does It Cost To Pursue A Wrongful Death Claim?
Rutter Mills doesn’t charge clients any retainer fees, upfront costs, or out-of-pocket expenses. We handle cases on a contingency basis. We only get paid after recovering compensation that satisfies your family. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain from calling for a free consultation.
How Much Are Wrongful Death Claims Worth in Virginia?
Each case is unique, but Rutter Mills has achieved impressive past results. Managing Partner Brother Rutter has won multiple multi-million-dollar personal injury verdicts, including the state’s largest (at the time) wrongful death verdict. In addition, we recovered $2.5 million for a ship worker killed in a motorcycle accident and $2.5 million for a man killed in a high-speed auto accident. We have been selected for inclusion in The Best Law Firms in America© list for the past five consecutive years based on rigorous peer evaluations and recognized among the top five percent of practicing attorneys in the nation.
Contact us for a free consultation
Rutter Mills will work tirelessly for you— we will conduct a thorough investigation and find the answers you’ve needed for closure. We consult with highly qualified experts to determine the full impact of the loss of a loved one. We will make sure all your paperwork is filed completely and on time.
Most cases end up in a settlement, but we will negotiate for a full and fair amount, preparing to take your case to trial if necessary. Once the settlement talks end or the jury verdict is finalized, we will make sure the money is collected and distributed, as per court orders. Your family’s well being is at the heart of what we do.
Wrongful death claims are not easy to litigate, but we feel strongly about advocating for those who are no longer here to demand fairness and greater safety measures. Virginia residents can count on us to do what’s right.
When you’ve been injured, you’ve got a lot at stake… but so does the insurance company. Walking into the court room with a serious lawyer makes all the difference. Watch our video to learn more about Rutter Mills.Free Case Review
“Nothing makes you feel more vulnerable than being hurt or ill. And nobody likes to ask for help. But when you need it most, we’re at our best. We give our clients the confidence and support they need to know they’ll be taken care of – that they’ll get the best outcome possible, even in the face of a very bad situation.”
– Brother Rutter