Everything You Need to Know About Virginia's Wrongful Death Law

It is never easy to lose a loved one to a situation that could have been prevented. Much like other states across America, Virginia has laws that cover wrongful deaths. In this blog, we explain Virginia’s wrongful death laws and how to file a wrongful death claim.

What Is a Wrongful Death?

According to Virginia Code section 8.01-50, a death that is caused by a wrongful act, neglect, or default of another party is considered a wrongful death. The death must be one that would be supported by a personal injury claim, had the deceased party survived. Since the deceased can’t bring about a wrongful death claim, one or more of their "statutory beneficiaries" will have to file the claim.

In Virginia, wrongful death claims must be filed within 2 years of when the death occurred. The state’s statute of limitations bars wrongful death claims that have not been filed within the 2 year time-frame.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Virginia?

As stated above, one or more of the “statutory beneficiaries” needs to file the wrongful death claim. The following statutory beneficiaries can file a wrongful death claim:

  • The surviving spouse, children, or grandchildren of the deceased
  • The surviving parents and siblings of the deceased
  • Any relative who is a dependent of the deceased and shares their household
  • Any surviving family member who is entitled to inherit the deceased's estate under Virginia's intestacy laws

The right to file a wrongful death claim follows a particular order in the state of Virginia. The initial right to file the claim goes to surviving spouses, surviving children, and the surviving grandchildren of the deceased. Surviving parents, siblings, and dependents are next in line, followed by other types of inheritors.

Do you need assistance filing a wrongful death claim? We can help. Contact our team of Lynchburg wrongful death attorneys to get started on your free consultation today.