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The Course of Action for Wrongful Death

A wrongful death scenario can be a very challenging, emotional and devastating time for the remaining family. Here we have answered some common questions surrounding wrongful death cases, to prepare those for the legal process.

How is Wrongful Death Compensation Calculated?

There are many factors when it comes to the amount of compensation given for wrongful death, and they are listed as follows:

  • Contributions of decedent in past

  • Life expectancy at time of death

  • Health prior to accident

  • Age at time of death

  • Lifestyle habits

  • Occupation

  • Previous earnings

  • Future potential income

Is Compensation for Punitive Damages Possible in a Wrongful Death Case?

In many states, punitive damages cannot be recovered for a wrongful death case. There are a few states that have detailed statues which do permit seeking punitive damage compensation. Whether compensation for punitive damage can be sought varies based on the state in which the deceased passed.

Can Surviving Family Members Opt-Out of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Yes, if any members of the deceased surviving family does not want to be a part of a wrongful death lawsuit, they can remove themselves from participation. However if they do so, they are signing away their rights and opportunity for compensation.

Is a Lawyer Necessary?

It is usually recommended that plaintiffs consult with a lawyer for a wrongful death case. Due to the sensitivity and complexity of these kinds of cases, clients can benefit from professional representation. If investigations of the incident reveal hidden details of the death, and any other possible responsible parties it can help to have the professional counsel of a lawyer.

Can Heirs Seek Separate Lawyers?

Yes, heirs can obtain different lawyers, which in some cases can be necessary if the heirs are resentful towards the other. However, it can benefit the heirs if they attempt to get along, as obvious hostility can minimize the value of a case in the eyes of a court or judge.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Case?

Depending on the state in which the death occurred, certain surviving family members can be entitled to pursuing a wrongful death claim if any of the following are applicable:

1. If deceased was married, the spouse when death occurred can file a lawsuit. The children are also able to submit a claim.

2. If deceased was married with no children, then the parents can bring forward a lawsuit.

3. Any brothers and sisters are able to file a wrongful death claim if the deceased has no surviving parents or children.

4. If it is a young child that passes, the parents are able to file an action.

Be sure to reach out to a personal injury lawyer Harrisonburg VA recommends if you have any questions.


Thank you to our friends and contributors from Martin Wren, P.C., for the knowledge and information surrounding wrongful death cases.

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