Craig P. Tiller, Esq. PLLC

Wrongful death suits in Virginia

When someone in Virginia is believed to have died as a result of another party's actionable behavior, such as a wrongful act or negligence, certain family members of the decedent may wish to pursue civil action. A personal representative of a decedent may seek to hold a party financially accountable for a victim's passing by filing a wrongful death lawsuit.

For example, if a person, corporation or other entity seems to have caused a fatal accident, then a personal representative of someone killed in it may decide to file a civil suit against the party suspected of fault. During the trial, the plaintiff's side would be charged with the task of providing evidence of the behavior alleged to have caused the incident in question. With respect to fetal deaths, the natural mother may pursue a wrongful death action. In the event that the mother also died in such an accident, the administrator of the mother's estate would be able to initiate or maintain a wrongful death lawsuit according to Virginia law.

The statute of limitations for this type of civil action is two years. Thus, if an individual in Virginia were to die at the scene of a traffic accident, then a personal representative of the decedent must initiate the wrongful death lawsuit within two years of the fatal accident.

The pecuniary burdens that can accompany the sudden and unforeseen death of a loved one may be devastating for families. End-of-life expenses such as funeral bills and the costs associated with a decedent's estate administration can accrue rapidly and in an intractable manner. However, certain personal representatives of the decedent may be entitled to restitution for these economic damages via civil action. That is why many bereaved family members seek the counsel and representation of a wrongful death attorney following a fatal accident.

Source: Legislative Information System, "ยง 8.01-50. Action for death by wrongful act; how and when to be brought.", September 24, 2014

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