When you unexpectedly lose a loved one in an accident, you may have several questions about your legal options. It’s common to wonder how long you have to file and whether you should pursue a lawsuit.
Like most claims, wrongful death has a statute of limitations for filing against an at-fault party. Here is everything you need to know about the Virginia wrongful death statute of limitations and how it may affect your case.
The Virginia Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations is a time limit set by each state for filing certain types of legal actions. The purpose of the
Virginia wrongful death statute is to both prevent people from waiting too long to file and to ensure that both parties have the ability to gather fresh evidence.
According to the Code of Virginia § 8.01-244, the claimant must file a wrongful death claim within two years after the date of death.
However, if the court dismisses a lawsuit brought by the claimant within that time period, the claimant may file again.
Are There Any Exceptions?
While it’s rare for the court to make an exception to the statute of limitations for wrongful death, it does happen. There are certain circumstances in which the court may extend the deadline for the claimant.
The first exception relates to the rule of discovery. If a family member doesn’t discover the decedent’s death until after their passing, the clock starts after they discovered or reasonably should have discovered it.
Another important exception is if the claimant is a minor child at the time of their parent’s death. In this case, the child has until two years after their 18th birthday to file a wrongful death claim.
However, in other instances, the court usually uses the wrongful death lawsuit statute of limitations written into Virginia law.
What Happens If I Miss the Deadline?
If you miss the Virginia wrongful death statute of limitations deadline, chances are that the court won’t hear the case. For this reason, it’s essential to consult with an experienced Virginia wrongful death attorney.
Not only can they help collect evidence pertaining to the case, but they can also help you file your claim in a timely manner.
Need Assistance with Your Wrongful Death Claim?
Losing a loved one due to the negligence of another is an incredibly devastating experience. Don’t count on the defendant’s insurance company to be empathetic during this difficult time.
At River Run Law, our Virginia wrongful death attorneys know how difficult it can be to face a claim on your own. From day one, we help our clients navigate every aspect of their case.
Whether that’s collecting evidence, negotiating settlements, or making claim filings, we’re here for you.
For a free case analysis, contact us online or give us a call at 804-889-0500. We proudly serve individuals and families throughout Virginia from our office in Richmond.