How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Tina Your Own Question
Tina, Lawyer
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 8775
Experience:  JD, BBA Over 25 years legal and business experience.
Type Your Legal Question Here...
Tina is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

My 3 year old son died in a terrible accidental fall from the

Customer Question

My 3 year old son died in a terrible accidental fall from the back steps of my home. While pulling on the door lever with all his strength, his little hands slipped off and he went backwards off the steps with his back arched , and with force, and nothing to break to his fall. His head impacted concrete. He never regained consciousness and passed away two days later due to the severe head trauma he endured. It was brought to my attention that the stairs are not to code and likely contributed to his death. There is supposed to be a mimimum of a 3 foot landing, however these back stairs have no landing. The door essesnitally opens out to a step. I've consulted with a wrongful death attorney who advised me to first become administer of my son's estate (of $0's), so that no one else can sue for wrongful death based on the stairs. His father and I were not on good terms. He did not live in the same state as we did and he was not active in my son's life, but he was on lease and the renter's insurance, so technically, it is possible he would file a wrongful death suit. He's big on filing suits and trying to get a money. So, became Adminstrator of my son's estate to protect my him from being exploited in death, by his own father. I went down to the probate court last week and qualified for administer of his estate. Does this now give me total control over whether anyone can file a wrongful death suit? What all does being the administer of his estate in the state of VA entail? I qualified under VA code 642-454, because I was told it was all encompassing. Does this qualify me to file a wrongful death suit if one day I decide to go that route?
Now I need to get someone out to measure and take pictures of the steps, if I do decide to file suit in the future. What kind of certified inspector do I need to get?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Ray replied 2 years ago.
Hi and welcome to JA. I am Ray and will be the expert helping you tonight. Yes you can now proceed here to obtain a lawyer and pursue this matter.One of your duties is to pursue any claims due the estate.Such a claim would be included.You would want to choose a lawyer here and he would send demand letter and sue after that unless resolved.Occasionally these settle out after a demand letter especially if there is an insurance carrier or two involved and there may well be. You as administrator may pursue this matter on behalf of the estate. You are able to hire the lawyer and pursue a recovery.The father would not have involvement. You would do this contingent fee and do not pay until there is a recovery here.
Expert:  Ray replied 2 years ago.
Lawyers here with ratings, look for the ones with 10.0 if you have not already selected one.
Expert:  Ray replied 2 years ago. I am so sorry for this indescribable loss , I hope you will pursue this matter you deserve a recovery for all you have been through.Thanks again for the chance to help tonight.
Expert:  Ray replied 2 years ago.
When a family member dies as a result of the neglect or wrongful action of another, a lawsuit for damages may be brought by the personal representative of the decedent within two years after the death of the injured person. (Va. § 8.01-50, 8.01-244).
Expert:  Ray replied 2 years ago.
Here in Virginia the damages that a jury or court may award to you are those that they believe are “fair and just.” (Va § 8.01-52) The verdict of the court when the case is tried without a jury shall include damages for the following:1. Sorrow, mental anguish, and solace which may include society, companionship, comfort, guidance, kindly offices and advice of the decedent; 2. Compensation for reasonably expected loss of (i) income of the decedent and (ii) services, protection, care and assistance provided by the decedent;3. Expenses for the care, treatment and hospitalization of the decedent incident to the injury resulting in death;4. Reasonable funeral expenses; and5. Punitive damages may be recovered for willful or wanton conduct, or such recklessness as evinces a conscious disregard for the safety of others.
Expert:  Ray replied 2 years ago.
The persons entitled to recover known as “statutory beneficiaries” are determined by statute, Va § 8.01-53. They are (i) the surviving spouse, children of the deceased and children of any deceased child of the deceased or (ii) if there be none such, then to the parents, brothers and sisters of the deceased, and to any other relative who is primarily dependent on the decedent for support or services and is also a member of the same household as the decedent or (iii) if the decedent has left both surviving spouse and parent or parents, but no child or grandchild, the award shall be distributed to the surviving spouse and such parent or parents or (iv) if there are survivors under clause (i) or clause (iii), the award shall be distributed to those beneficiaries and to any other relative who is primarily dependent on the decedent for support or services and is also a member of the same household as the decedent or (v) if no survivors exist under clause (i), (ii), (iii), or (iv), the award shall be distributed in the course of descents as provided for in § 64.2-20
Expert:  Ray replied 2 years ago.
This should give you an idea here under Virginia law the damages you can recover these can range into the millions. The fact that he was so young would increase the amount of damages in most situations as the life expectancy is greater.I do wish you the best here.Thanks again.