When an individual dies because of the negligent, reckless or unlawful act of another person or organization, the family of the deceased may seek compensation under Virginia\u2019s wrongful death statutes.Virginia law and subsequent interpretations by the courts recognize that survivors in a wrongful death claim may have a right to restitution, or \u201cdamages,\u201d for financial support the deceased provided and as compensation for the emotional pain of a loved one\u2019s death. In certain cases of wrongful death, a jury may award additional compensation, as punishment, if the wrongdoer\u2019s behavior was egregious and led to a wrongful death.While money cannot reverse a grievous loss or assuage the family\u2019s grief, it can keep a family from experiencing financial hardship because of the loss of a breadwinner. The damages meant to ease the grief, loneliness and discomfort of losing a loved one are, in fact, cited first in Virginia\u2019s statute.The Roanoke wrongful death lawyers of the Lichtenstein Law Group PLC work with grieving families to seek a full and fair financial recovery after the wrongful death of a loved one. Our experienced attorneys work to protect our clients from being pressured by insurance companies to accept inadequate wrongful death settlements. We believe that, beyond the financial recovery and right to solace recognized by Virginia law, holding a wrongdoer accountable and obtaining a full wrongful death settlement or jury verdict can help a family reach a sense of closure after the loss of a loved one.What Damages Are Available in a Virginia Wrongful Death Claim?Unlike some states, Virginia does not limit the amount of compensation available in most wrongful death claims, such as after fatal car accidents. The state\u2019s wrongful death statute says the jury or court \u201cmay award such damages as to it may seem fair and just.\u201d Virginia law does cap jury awards in medical malpractice claims.Damages may be awarded for:Sorrow, mental anguish and solaceCompensation for reasonably expected loss of income of the decedent and services, protection, care and assistance provided by the decedentExpenses for the care, treatment and hospitalization of the decedent incident to the injury resulting in deathReasonable funeral expensesPunitive damages for willful or wanton conduct or such recklessness as to show a conscious disregard for the safety of others.In describing damages available for the survivors\u2019 sorrow, mental anguish and solace, the statute states that the damages \u201cmay include society, companionship, comfort, guidance, kindly offices and advice of the decedent.\u201d Providing companionship, comfort, guidance and advice are part of being someone\u2019s spouse, parent, child or other family member. Loss of \u201csociety\u201d refers to the loss of the individual\u2019s presence, such as how a person\u2019s spouse or child is a part of their life.What Happens When a Wrongful Death Case Goes to Court in Virginia?If a claim goes to court, the jury or judge will state the total damages awarded but must specifically state what has been awarded under Nos. 3 and 4 above for creditors and for No. 5. Punitive damages (No. 5) are capped at $350,000 in Virginia. Under the law, the jury is not told this and may award more, but the judge will reduce the amount awarded to the maximum allowed.A wrongful death lawsuit sets out why the surviving family member(s) deserve to be compensated and what damages they demand. As part of preparing for a trial, we would have an accountant or actuary submit estimates as to the amount of income the deceased would have provided the family over their expected lifetime. We would also gather statements and other evidence from family and friends to illustrate what the deceased meant to his or her family.Virginia Defines Who May File and Be Compensated by a Wrongful Death ClaimVirginia law establishes that members of the deceased\u2019s immediate family or household are expected to benefit from a wrongful death claim. A jury award in a claim is to be distributed among the:Surviving spouseChildren of the deceasedChildren of any deceased child of the deceased (orphaned grandchildren)Parents of the deceased if they were financially supported by the deceased within 12 months of the wrongful death.Adopted children and stepchildren are considered the deceased\u2019s children under the law.If such survivors do not exist, then damages are distributed to the parents (regardless of financial dependence), brothers and sisters of the deceased and to any other relative who is a member of the same household as the decedent\u00a0and was primarily financially dependent on the decedent.There are provisions for other circumstances, but the focus is on the close family members who were financially dependent on the deceased. If the deceased had no immediate family,\u00a0Virginia state law\u00a0would dictate the next family member who would be eligible to recover damages from a wrongful death claim.A wrongful death lawsuit is filed in the name of the personal representative of the estate of the deceased. This is typically the executor named in the deceased\u2019s will or the individual appointed by a probate court to administer the estate. Keep in mind that part of damages awarded in a claim will go to medical care providers and\/or a funeral home, which are considered creditors of the estate.Barring certain circumstances, a wrongful death claim must be filed within two years of the individual\u2019s death. That may seem like a long time, but a successful claim requires time to investigate a wrongful death accident and gather evidence to support the claim.How Do I File a Wrongful Death Claim in Virginia?If you believe that a loved one of yours has died in a wrongful death in Virginia for which you and\/or other survivors should be compensated, you need to speak to an experienced wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. In Roanoke, the Virginia wrongful death attorneys at Lichtenstein Law Group PLC are ready to assist you, beginning with a free, no obligation discussion of your case.A wrongful death claim demands that one or more insurance companies be legally compelled to pay the deceased\u2019s survivors. An insurance company will fight a claim or seek to pay far less than survivors deserve. As your attorneys, we will prepare a strong case for trial and protect you from insurance companies that are sure to put their own bottom lines above your losses.Contact us now in Roanoke to discuss obtaining justice for you and the loved one you have lost.