Under Virginia law, a “wrongful” death is one that resulted from any negligent act, omission, or default. If another person’s actions or inactions caused the death of your loved one, you might be entitled to the proceeds of a wrongful death claim.
Wrongful death lawsuits are a civil remedy against the at-fault party in your loved one’s death. While no amount of money can undo what has happened, a successful claim could ease any financial strain the loss of your family member has caused.
Wrongful death claims are complicated. While you are entitled to pursue them on your own, the chances of a mistake costing you dearly are significant. By working with a Williamsburg wrongful death lawyer, you improve your chances of obtaining justice on behalf of your loved one and protecting your legal rights. Call the wrongful death law firm of Rutter Mills to learn more.
Wrongful death claims vs. criminal offenses
Understanding the difference between a civil wrongful death claim and a criminal prosecution is helpful in these circumstances. First and foremost, it is possible for both of these types of cases to occur at the same time. However, only a wrongful death claim has the potential for recovering a monetary judgment against the responsible party.
A wrongful death claim is a civil lawsuit brought by the personal representative of the decedent’s estate. With the guidance of wrongful death lawyers, the personal representative will seek monetary compensation from the at-fault party on behalf of the decedent’s heirs. A judgment in a civil case will not result in a criminal conviction or the consequences that come with one.
In the alternative, it is up to the Commonwealth’s Attorney to bring a criminal charge against the at-fault party. While they might consult with the family of the victim before doing so, the decision is ultimately with the state. Unlike a civil claim, a conviction for a criminal offense can result in jail time and fines. These cases could involve charges of murder or manslaughter, which can result in lengthy prison terms if convicted.
The compensation in a wrongful death claim shares similarities with most personal injury cases. However, there are obvious differences related to your loved one’s final expenses that would not apply to a standard negligence claim. Examples of potential compensation include:
- Emotional trauma
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of income and support
- Medical expenses related to the final injury or illness
- Funeral costs
- Burial expenses
- Punitive damages
An experienced wrongful death attorney can evaluate the circumstances of your love one’s passing and advise you of the compensation you might be entitled to.
Speak with a Williamsburg wrongful death attorney right away
If you believe you are entitled to the proceeds of a wrongful death claim, it is vital that you take the necessary steps to protect your legal claim. At Rutter Mills, we can pursue your wrongful death case in a compassionate manner. Schedule a free consultation with Rutter Mills to learn more.
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