Virginia Wrongful Death in Auto Cases: What are the damages?

The death of a loved one is one of the hardest things life can throw our way, made even more painful when it comes unexpectedly. In 2017 alone there were 843 auto-related fatalities in Virginia. Nearly a third, or 238 of those fatalities were related to alcohol use and 318 of them were related to speeding.

While no amount of money can replace a lost loved one, or make whole those who survived them, a wrongful death claim can help ease the financial pressures inevitably caused by medical expenses, funeral costs, and lost wages that can quickly overwhelm surviving family members.

When there is evidence that shows that someone’s death is the result of another person’s willful act or negligence there is a potential wrongful death claim. In the context of auto accidents this sort of claim can be brought against drivers who cause accidents because they violated a traffic law, because of simple carelessness, or by failing to exercise due care in operating their vehicle.

An unfortunate, but critical step in any wrongful death claim is accurately calculating the damages. This calculation is a difficult and time consuming process, usually requiring an economist or other finance professional. The final damages amount can vary wildly on a case-by-case basis, but must be based on the deceased’s earning capacity, health, income at time of death, age, medical bills, funeral costs, and several other factors that are used by finance professionals to come to some objective figure that represents the deceased person’s life value.

Generally speaking, there is no cap on wrongful death settlements in Virginia. There are specific circumstances, however, when a there is a statutory cap on how much a plaintiff may recover in a wrongful death claim, such as when the defendant is a sheriff or deputy employed by the Commonwealth of Virginia.

If you or someone you know has lost a loved one in an auto accident due to someone else’s willful act or negligence, give the experienced attorneys at Winslow & McCurry a call at (804) 423-1382 to schedule a personal injury consultation.  We are here to help.