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5 Things to Know About Wrongful Death Claims During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has caused serious infections of COVID-19 in Virginia and across the country, and thousands of people have died from the disease. Beyond deaths immediately caused by COVID-19, the coronavirus pandemic has also resulted in other problems, such as speeding on highways and deadlier car crashes, as well as dangerous workplace conditions, which have led to injuries and deaths. If someone you love died as a result of COVID-19 due to another party’s negligent or reckless behavior during the pandemic, it may be possible to file a wrongful death claim. An experienced Virginia wrongful death attorney can speak with you about your options for seeking compensation.


1. A Nursing Home May Be Responsible for the Wrongful Death of a Patient Due to Poor Infection-Control Measures

Nursing homes are required to have infection-control measures and policies to prevent the spread of infections in facilities. Yet nursing home residents are contracting COVID-19 and dying at alarmingly high rates. According to a recent article in The New York Times, as of April 17, more than 7,000 nursing home residents had died in what commentators are describing as “death pits.” Many of these deaths may result from nursing home negligence. If a facility does not take proper infection-control measures, it may be liable for deaths caused by COVID-19.

2. Medical Malpractice Can Still Happen During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Medical malpractice, or medical negligence, can still occur during a pandemic. Whether you lost a loved one who died in a hospital after seeking treatment for COVID-19 or you lost a loved one due to a healthcare provider’s error that was unrelated to a coronavirus infection, that healthcare provider may be responsible for the death. Medical malpractice can take many different forms, and a variety of health providers may be liable for a death caused by a medical error.

3. Statute of Limitations on Claims is Two Years

Under Virginia law, the statute of limitations in wrongful death claims is two years. What this means is that a lawsuit must be filed within two years from the date of the deceased’s death. Otherwise, the claim will become time-barred.

4. Potential for Employers to Be Liable for Coronavirus Wrongful Deaths

In some situations, an employer may be responsible for a death from COVID-19. If your loved one died as a result of coronavirus exposure on the job and the employer failed to provide necessary protective equipment, that employer could potentially be liable for the death.

5. Statutory Beneficiaries Can Be Entitled to Damages

Under Virginia’s wrongful death law, certain parties can be eligible to receive damages in a wrongful death claim. To be clear, a personal representative of the estate must be the party who files the claim, but multiple family members or dependents of the deceased may be eligible to recover damages. Virginia law allows the surviving spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, siblings, household dependents, and heirs to be eligible to receive damages. However, these parties can be eligible for damages in a specific order. The first people who can be eligible to receive compensation include the deceased’s surviving spouse, children, or grandchildren. The other parties listed will only be eligible if there is no surviving spouse, children, or grandchildren.


Contact a Wrongful Death Lawyer in Fairfax

If someone you love died during the coronavirus pandemic as a result of another party’s negligence or wrongdoing, it may be possible to seek compensation through a Virginia wrongful death lawsuit. An experienced Fairfax, VA wrongful death attorney can speak with you today about your options. Contact The Johnson Injury Firm for more information. We serve clients in Richmond, Chesterfield, Henrico, Mechanicsville, Petersburg, Fairfax, Tidewater, Danville, and across the Commonwealth of Virginia.

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