Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Virginia?

The death of a loved one is never easy and this is especially true when the death is caused by a neglectful or a wrongful act by another person. Most people would like closure and to say their final goodbyes before a loved one or family member is taken from them. Sadly, many families are deprived of getting to do this when a wrongful act occurs that claims the life of their loved one.

So What Can Families Do?

While no one really wants to discuss money at a time like this, thinking about a family’s financial future can help bring justice. Plus, it is critical in order to pay the bills and to maintain the lifestyle a family has grown accustomed to. This is why it is wise that families learn all they can about bringing a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible party.

Who Can File a Lawsuit?

According to the Virginia wrongful death code 8.01-53, a statutory beneficiary can file a wrongful death suit on behalf of the deceased person. A statutory beneficiary is a family member or dependent, such as:

  • Surviving spouse
  • Children
  • Grandchildren

If none of the above parties exist to bring a suit against the wrongful party, then the next set of beneficiaries can include:

  • Parents of the deceased
  • Brothers and sisters of the deceased
  • Other relatives that are dependent on the decedent for services or support

It is important to note that a beneficiary under the law isn’t just a blood relative; a beneficiary can be related to the decedent by marriage, adoption, or even as stepchildren. Basically, the wrongful death statute in Virginia initially allows a spouse, children, adopted children, and stepchildren to collect compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit. When a person suffers a wrongful death and that person doesn’t have children or a spouse, the decedent’s parents and siblings are the ones who are allowed to collect wrongful death damages.

Filing a wrongful death lawsuit can be complicated due to the different parties who are entitled to bring a claim. Because of this and due to the complexities of the law, it is wise that families hire an attorney experienced in wrongful death claims.

If you have lost a loved one due to wrongful death, we know this is a very emotional and overwhelming time in your life. We hope you have learned more about your rights and found this article helpful. If we can be of any further assistance or answer any of your additional questions, please contact us for a free consultation today.


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