The wrongful death statute of limitations in Virginia is two years from the date of the person’s death.
What to Know About Statutes of Limitations in Virginia
A statute of limitations determines how long an injured party (for injury cases) or family members (for wrongful death cases) have to file a lawsuit for their losses. If the lawsuit is not filed within two years, the statute of limitations prohibits it from being heard in court.
It Can Take Months or Longer to Build a Case
Many people assume they have all the time in the world to begin building their wrongful death case, but this is simply not true. It can take months or even longer to build a robust case, especially if the accident that leads to your loved one’s death was complex or the other party is disputing fault. We recommend calling us as soon as possible after your loved one’s death to get started. Remember, the wrongful death statute of limitations in Virginia is only two years.
Parties That May Be Entitled to Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim in Virginia
According to Virginia law § 8.01-53, the damages awarded to the family will be distributed to the:
- 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
- (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
- (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
- (v) if no survivors exist under clause (i), (ii), (iii), or (iv), the award shall be distributed in the course of descents as provided in Virginia Code § 64.2-200. For purposes of this section, a relative is defined as a person related to the decedent by blood, marriage, or adoption and also includes a stepchild of the decedent
An oft-asked question is about the rights of half-siblings of the decedent. Under Virginia’s wrongful death statute, half-brothers and half-sisters fall within the same class as parents of the decedent and may receive compensation.
Note: The only party who can file a wrongful death claim is the personal representative of the deceased.
Common Accidents That Lead to Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Virginia
While accidents happen every day, there is a number that is commonly responsible for creating injuries so severe that it results in the wrongful death of the victim.
Hundreds of thousands of accidents happen every year. Many of these accidents are the result of negligent driving behavior, such as:
- Distracted driving
- Aggressive driving
- Drugs and alcohol
- Drowsy driving
Accidents involving trucks, pedestrians, and bicyclists can be especially serious.
After analyzing medical death rates over eight years, Johns Hopkins reported that medical error is now the third leading cause of death in the United States, behind chronic respiratory disease and cancer.
Slip and Fall Accidents
Millions of people fall every year. While some walk away unscathed, many others suffer injuries such as traumatic brain injuries that they cannot walk away from.
We trust product manufacturers to ensure that the products they develop and release to consumers are free from defects that can cause injuries and even death. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Sometimes consumers are injured while using sporting gear, home appliances, cars and trucks, medical devices, and other products that they believed were safe for use.
It is important, in these instances, to keep in mind that the injury must have been caused by the negligent actions of another. In the case of a defective product, however, you must demonstrate that the company did know or should have known about the defect and the possible harm that it could cause.
Damages You May Recover in a Virginia Wrongful Death Claim
Damages are intended to compensate family members for the loss of their loved one. Some of the types of damages family members may be entitled to recover include:
- Reasonable funeral and burial expenses
- Medical expenses related to the victim’s injuries
- Loss of wages and benefits provided by the victim, including the wages and benefits the victim would have earned if they had lived a normal life
- Loss of comfort, guidance, companionship, and protection
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Call Us for Help Today
The wrongful death statute of limitations in Virginia is two years. That time can go quickly, especially if you are still trying to cope with the loss of a loved one. We understand you are grieving, and it is difficult to consider undertaking complex legal actions. However, once you enlist our help in your case, it is out of your hands. We will handle every aspect on your behalf.
For help with filing your claim and pursuing damages in your wrongful death lawsuit, contact the Parrish Law Firm, PLLC at (571) 229-1800. A member of our team is standing by and ready to help with a free evaluation of your case.