Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

In any Virginia personal injury claim, a plaintiff not only has to prove that the defendant acted with negligence or intent, but also that the plaintiff sustained compensable damages. In some cases, a defendant’s conduct may be so egregious that the plaintiff may be able to recover punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages. Punitive damages are generally very substantial, as they are designed to deter similar future conduct.

In one recent case, a court upheld an award of punitive damages of over $4 million in a nursing home neglect case. The plaintiffs brought their claims against a nursing facility after three residents died at the facilities in a “vent unit.” The vent unit was designed for ventilator-dependent patients. The plaintiffs claimed that the residents died due to inadequate staffing and a lack of supplies in the vent unit.

The evidence presented indicated that one resident’s breathing apparatus was detached without any alarm going off.  Another resident was found dead with his ventilator and its alarms turned off. The third resident’s tracheostomy tube was not properly replaced after it had been removed by nursing home staff. The plaintiffs claimed that all three deaths were caused by inadequate staffing and a lack of supplies.

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Punitive damages are awards paid to a plaintiff exclusively for the purpose of punishing a defendant above and beyond paying for the financial costs and other harms suffered by the plaintiff. These damages are often awarded to prevent the specific defendant, or others who may be in a similar or analogous position, from repeating the type of behavior that led to the award of punitive damages.

Juries may be given the option to award punitive damages in certain personal injury, wrongful death, and medical malpractice cases when a plaintiff alleges that the defendant committed especially reprehensible behavior in causing the plaintiff’s injuries. For punitive damages to be awarded in these cases, a defendant must have not only been negligent but also behaved in a manner that warrants the additional punishment. These damages are rare but are not unheard of in certain types of cases.

Covering Up Knowledge of a Dangerous Product and Continuing to Market the Product Can Result in Punitive Damages

An example of the types of behaviors that justify punitive damages is illustrated by a recent jury verdict reached against the well-known health care products company Johnson & Johnson. A news article discussing the verdict explains that the jury found that Johnson & Johnson not only marketed a dangerous talc-based powder for women to use as a feminine care product, but also knew there was a high likelihood that the use of such powder on or near a woman’s genitals could result in ovarian cancer. The jury agreed that despite their knowledge of these risks, the company continued to market the product to women.

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The verdicts and settlements listed below are a representative sample of the hundreds of cases our law firm has handled.  Please be advised that the case results reported below depend upon a variety of factors unique to each case and do not guarantee or predict a similar result in any future case undertaken by the lawyer. 
     In 2013, Charles B. Roberts & Associates, P.C. was retained to handle a matter involving the wrongful death of a pedestrian who was struck by a vehicle driven by an 18 year old who, at the time of the crash, was involved in a road rage altercation with another driver. The case was challenging since our client was jaywalking at night and was allegedly not watching where he was crossing because he was wearing headphones and listening to music at the time he was fatally struck. Charles B. Roberts successfully obtained a settlement for his client’s family in the sum of $1,125,000,000 after the parties agreed to mediation and all the evidence was presented to the insurance companies.

Please visit the website of our law firm at charlesrobertslaw.com or robertsinjurylaw.com if you are in need of highly skilled and successful personal injury lawyers. The following is an excerpt from those websites which sets out the general qualifications of our personal injury law firm.

The attorneys associated with Charles B. Roberts & Associates P.C. and I are proud to adhere to the “The Diamond Standard” in the practice of law. This standard is exemplified by the highest level of preparation and hard work in every case combined with the intelligent pursuit of victory.We accept cases in Virginia, Maryland and in Washington D.C.


Our uncompromising adherence to excellence has resulted in numerous $1,000,000.00 plus victories in the area of personal injury law, and thousands of completely satisfied clients in the fields of divorce, criminal, traffic, bankruptcy, wrongful death, medical malpractice, nursing home neglect and elder law.

A jury ruled this week that Virginia Tech was negligent in its response to the 2007 shootings on campus that left 33 dead and dozens more injured.  The families of Erin Peterson and Julie Pryde were awarded $4 million each after only three and a half hours of deliberation. The jury determined that many of the victims would likely be alive today if Virginia Tech police and campus administrators had warned students of the first shooting sooner than they did.

Cases like this engender public outrage and highlight the importance of wrongful death cases. In a case like this, family members want to see that the people responsible for their loved one’s death are brought to justice. Negligent conduct such as that displayed by the university’s staff and campus police in this case should not go unpunished. Wrongful death cases, such as this one are extremely complex and may take years to resolve.  If you have lost a loved one due to the wrongful conduct of another, contact a Woodbridge wrongful death lawyer to explore your legal options.

If someone else’s negligence led to your loved one’s death, call a Woodbridge injury attorney at (703) 798-3039 for a consultation. Our team of experienced attorneys can help you seek justice for your loss. We handle wrongful death cases in Woodbridge, Fredericksburg, Stafford, and throughout the state of Virginia. The Woodbridge wrongful death lawyers at the Roberts Law Firm work on a contingent fee basis, which means that you don’t pay a fee unless you receive monetary recovery in your case.