Recovering Compensation Through a Virginia Wrongful Death Claim

We trust our doctors and health care providers to keep us safe—especially when we’re at our most vulnerable and not feeling well. This, however, is not always the case, and instances of Virginia medical malpractice can have serious consequences. When such incidents cause injuries or even death, those who are responsible must be held accountable.

In a recent Virginia Supreme Court opinion, the court had to consider the merits of a wrongful death claim. The deceased was admitted to a local Virginia hospital because she was experiencing nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. After an abdominal CT scan, multiple doctors examined the decedent’s results and eventually sent her home. Later in Kentucky, she was admitted to the hospital again when she experienced severe abdominal pain. The doctors at this hospital performed an initial surgery, which was followed by multiple other surgeries to treat other stomach and abdominal issues in the following two months. Eventually, the decedent died “as a result of complications directly related and attributable” to the initial surgery she underwent in Kentucky.

Following the decedent’s passing, the executor of her estate brought claims in both states. In Virginia, he brought wrongful death claims against the doctors who initially treated the deceased and discharged her. The executor of the decedent’s estate argued that the Virginia hospital and the physicians who treated the deceased were negligent and their failure to identify and treat the deceased’s abdominal issues was a proximate cause of her death. The lower court dismissed the executor’s claims, finding that because he received a settlement in Kentucky, he was ineligible to receive damages from a wrongful death claim in Virginia.

On appeal, the Virginia Supreme Court disagreed with the lower court’s dismissal. Because no language in the Virginia Code prohibits the filing of a wrongful death suit in Virginia because of a settlement of a personal injury claim in another state, the executor of the deceased’s estate should not have had his claims dismissed by the lower court. In addition, the deceased’s executor correctly filed two separate suits—one against the defendants in Kentucky, and another against different defendants in Virginia. Thus, according to the court, the executor’s claims were not improperly double-dipping for damages over the same set of claims.

In Virginia, wrongful death claims can often be complex. Before getting into the technicalities of a particular claim and its facts, potential plaintiffs should understand a few basic principles. First, Virginia law requires that wrongful death claims be filed within two years of the deceased’s passing. Cases filed outside of this statute of limitations will be barred from being heard in court. Second, wrongful death claims in Virginia can only be brought by surviving parents or siblings, relatives dependent on the deceased, surviving spouses, children, or grandchildren, and any family member who could inherit the deceased’s estate. Third, potential plaintiffs should assess what kinds of damages they suffered. Available damages in Virginia include loss of consortium, lost wages and benefits, medical expenses, funeral expenses, emotional and mental suffering, and punitive damages.

Do You Need a Virginia Wrongful Death Lawyer?

If you lost a loved one in a preventable accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Those interested in filing a claim should contact The Schupak Law Firm. Attorney Schupak has represented clients in all types of Virginia wrongful death and personal injury matters for decades. He has the necessary skill, dedication, and experience to successfully bring your claim. Attorney Schupak will tirelessly advocate on your behalf to help you pursue the compensation you deserve. To schedule a free consultation today, call 703-491-7070.

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