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Essex County wrongful death attorneys

How do we help grieving families after a wrongful death in Essex County?

Losing someone you love is devastating. The fallout from a sudden death can be long-lasting, emotionally and financially.

If you have lost a family member because of someone else’s negligence, you have a legal right to seek compensation. Pursuing a wrongful death claim against the responsible party can help your family get back on their feet after a tragic loss.

However, being successful in your claim can depend on who you go to for help. Your claim could be denied if you go into the process alone. That’s why we at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys invite you to give us a call. It’s free to talk with us to find out your options, and we consider it a calling to help our neighbors in Essex County. If you sign up with our firm, you won’t owe us a dime unless and until we win your case.

To find out more, call our Essex County personal injury lawyers at (804) 413-6777 or toll-free at (855) 781-6777 today.

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What is a wrongful death?

Wrongful death refers to the loss of a person caused by a preventable accident. In other words, if Subject A (a person or company) hadn’t acted carelessly, then Subject B would still be alive.

Certain family members can file a civil claim on behalf of their deceased loved one to ease the financial burden that comes with such a death.

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How do wrongful deaths happen?

Almost any type of accident can lead to a wrongful death. But some accidents are more common than others. Car collisions are a frequent cause of wrongful death. In fact, 10 people tragically lost their lives in car accidents in Essex over just four years, according to VDOT. More than 260 Virginians were killed by drunk drivers in 2019 alone.

Other causes of wrongful deaths include:

Not all wrongful deaths may be obvious. For example, if a senior citizen slipped on an unmarked wet floor in the grocery store and suffered from fatal brain damage as a result, that could be a wrongful death. This scenario is more common than you may think. Close to 40,000 Americans are killed in falls every year. Knowing what really caused the death of your loved one is key if you seek to hold someone responsible.

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Who can file a wrongful death claim?

Not just anyone can file a wrongful death claim. These claims are meant to help families experiencing financial losses from their loved one’s death. The eligible parties include the deceased’s:

  • Spouse
  • Children
  • Grandchildren, but only if their parent has passed
  • Parents or siblings, but only if the children and grandchildren have passed
  • Any other beneficiaries of the deceased

If you are not on this list, you probably can’t file a wrongful death claim. But, if there is no spouse, children, grandchildren, siblings, or parents, you may be able to file if you could be considered a beneficiary of the deceased’s estate.

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How long do you have to file a claim?

We encourage our clients to speak to an attorney about filing a claim as quickly as possible, even though you may have a few years to act. This is because evidence can weaken with time. Witnesses forget what they saw, security footage gets deleted, and medical records get misplaced. The longer you wait, the less evidence you may find. And the less evidence you find, the greater your chances are of getting a low or no settlement.

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What’s the difference between a wrongful death claim and a survival action?

A wrongful death claim seeks damages on behalf of the victim’s survivors. A survival action is a separate legal process that seeks damages on behalf of the victim’s estate for damages suffered by the victim while he or she was still alive. This may include considerations like medical expenses, lost wages, and the pain and suffering he or she experienced due to the negligent actions of the defendant.

A survival action must be filed by the victim’s estate, and all damages awarded will be distributed according to the victim’s will. If there is no will, damages will be distributed as stipulated by Virginia law.

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What’s the role of your Essex County attorney in a wrongful death claim?

Hiring an experienced wrongful death lawyer will greatly improve your chances of filing a successful claim. It’s important to have someone by your side who’s familiar with the ins and outs of the Virginia legal system. Your attorney will make sure your claim is properly filed, and you meet all deadlines and other requirements.

The party who files a wrongful death claim is referred to as the plaintiff, and the plaintiff has the burden of proof in a wrongful death case. Your attorney will build a strong case on your behalf to demonstrate liability. This requires conducting a serious investigation and collecting the following documents and evidence: death certificate, coroner’s report, medical records, police reports, witness statements, surveillance and dashcam videos, and financial statements.

Your Essex County wrongful death lawyer will be with you every step of the way, and the legal process may include:

  1. Investigating the accident
  2. Filing a wrongful death claim
  3. Negotiating a settlement
  4. Taking your case to trial if that’s what it takes to get you a fair resolution

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What happens if your case goes to trial?

If the defendant refuses to make a reasonable offer, GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys is always prepared to argue your case before a judge and jury. When the other side knows that your attorney is serious about taking your case to trial, they’re a lot more likely to negotiate in good faith. It’s not uncommon for the defendant’s attorney to agree to a fair settlement right before a trial is set to begin.

After the plaintiff’s attorney submits a claim to the court, the defendant will make a plea, and the legal proceedings begin. During the discovery phase, both sides provide a list of witnesses and evidence that will be presented at trial. Attorneys for the plaintiff and the defendant are allowed to make legal motions requesting the court to take certain actions, such as excluding specific evidence or dismissing the case altogether.

When the case proceeds to trial, attorneys for both sides have the opportunity to present arguments. When the trial is complete, the jury will decide on a verdict which will determine if the defendant is liable for a wrongful death and how much he or she will be required to pay in damages.

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What compensation does an Essex County wrongful death claim cover?

You can claim compensation in a wrongful death case for several types of costs. These costs can be economic and non-economic. Economic costs include your financial losses, while non-economic costs include your suffering specifically unrelated to money. When you start your claim, you should have an idea of the costs you want to ask for and how much you want in total. We can help you with that.

Costs that you can ask for include:

  • Medical bills for the deceased before passing
  • Funeral expenses and burial costs
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional trauma
  • Loss of income
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of benefits (retirement funds and health insurance)
  • Loss of services (childcare, auto maintenance, house cleaning)

Recovering compensation for these costs can be the difference between financial recovery and bankruptcy for some families. But getting a high settlement can depend on your lawyer. Going into a claim alone can leave you with far less compensation than you deserve. As wrongful death attorneys, we serve Essex County, and we are here to help.

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What other resources can help survivors cope with a wrongful death?

Nothing can ever prepare you for the heartache that comes from knowing your loved one was taken away by the senseless actions of another person. In times like this, many people find solace by reaching out to friends and family, local community members, professional counselors, or church for support.

Additional resources can be found here:

  • Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services: (804) 786-3921
  • Virginia Victim Assistance Network: (855) 443-5782

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GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys is here to help our neighbors

We at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys consider every person in Essex County a neighbor. As locals, we know this area, its courts, law enforcement, and medical providers well. And we consider it a calling to help our neighbors in need. We know how financially and emotionally devastating it is to lose a loved one. To speak with one of the lawyers on our excellent personal injury team to find out your best options, call us at (804) 413-6777 or toll-free at (855) 781-6777 today.

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Call our Eastern Virginia office today for a free consultation
at (804) 413-6777 or toll free (855) 781-6777.

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Prevention, empathy, and diligence are hallmarks of everything we do at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys. Our community can see these ideals lived out in our work to prevent personal injuries from happening.

  • Safety Education
    GibsonSingleton launches “Texts=Wrecks” campaign to reduce the number of people injured or killed by distracted drivers.
  • Annual Coat Drive
    During the fall, our team works to distribute coats to people in need in our community.
  • Hands-on Service
    John and Ken join the Gloucester Point Rotary Club in cleaning up the community.
  • Supporting Local Schools
    The Gibson family participates in Gloucester’s Botetourt Elementary Shuffle fundraiser.