04 Apr Virginia Auto Accidents: VSC Wrongful Death Damages – a Lawyer’s Limitation
On April 18, 2008, the Virginia Supreme Court opined on the propriety of a roughly $1,000,000.00 damages award to a surviving spouse arising out of a car accident.The wrongful death case is Wright v. Minnicks, 275 Va. 579 (2008).
In Wright, the surviving spouse was awarded damages for the decedent’s care, treatment and hospitalization, funeral expenses, and loss of income, services, protection, care and assistance; but absolutely nothing for sorrow, mental anguish and solace. Id. at 582. The Virginia Supreme Court held that the zero award for sorrow, mental anguish and solace was not inconsistent or inadequate on the facts of the particular wrongful death.
“Here…there was evidence to support a finding by the jury that the Wrights’ marriage was dysfunctional. *** The Defendants’ evidence was that the Wrights were permanently living apart, both were unhappy with their marriage and intended to ‘go see a lawyer [and] sign papers to be separated’.” Id. at 585. However, the surviving spouse “was entirely dependant upon her husband for support. The jury could reasonably infer that she could have continued to rely upon him for support despite their separation.” Id.