VA to pay settlement in VA Tech shootings
UPDATE: suits for wrongful death are created by statute (at common law, if you were dead you couldn't sue, and your survivors had no right to, either, because they hadn't been directly hurt). The statutes are sometimes rather narrow -- rather than recovering for a lifetime of lost wages, some say you recover only what the deceased would have likely given you -- which will be high for a child of the deceased, but low for a parent. [Further update: I can't figure out the theory of liability, either, and that probably had a lot to do with the amount. Maybe failure to commit the shooter after finding him dangerous? But those decisions are usually immune from suit].
Off topic, but I once read a law rev. on how the statutes came to be. In early railroading days, 1840s or so, there were a lot of accidents and deaths. Train crashes and people getting hit, because folks were not used to gauging the speed of things that fast.
Nobody could sue, so the railroads shirked it off. Then some enterprising British attorneys applied the common law deodand (think I spelled it right) under which if farm animal killed a man, it was forfeited to his family. They won, and the locomotive was forfeited to his family, and the RR had to buy it back. I think deodand was strict liability, not negligence. The animal, or locomotive, killed someone and is forfeit -- whether the owner was negligent or not made no difference.
RRs got most disturbed, and got legislation passed which abolished deodand, in exchange for letting survivors sue for damages in wrongful death. It was a lot cheaper to pay damages than to buy back a locomotive every time it hit someone!