In Virginia, wrongful death lawsuits are subject to a statute of limitations that delineates how long you have to file your civil action. The limitation period for most wrongful death cases in the state begins on the date of death.
What is the “discovery rule” in wrongful death?
The discovery rule is sometimes applied in wrongful death lawsuits to determine whether the person who died knew or should have known of the cause of his illness or injury before dying. In cases where the discovery rule is applied, the statute of limitations could start on a date prior to the person’s death. In the Commonwealth of Virginia, the statute of limitations to file wrongful death lawsuits is generally two years.
Some circumstances can alter the statute of limitations for wrongful death. These can include:
- When the wrongful death action is viewed as derivative
- General product liability cases
- Product liability involving older individuals
Even if the statute of limitations has run out on your case, all is not lost as you do have some recourse. You can extend the statute of limitations by:
- Tolling the statute of limitations
- Having it waived by the court
- Having the opposing party waive it
Which route should I take?
If you’re thinking of filing a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of a loved one, preserving your claim is of the utmost importance. However, it may not be something that you think of initially during a time of mourning.
To file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of a loved one, you must be the administrator of that person’s estate. Having someone advise you on what types of damages may be available and meeting the time limit is essential to pursuing a successful lawsuit.