Understanding Wrongful Death Claims in Virginia 

Wrongful Death Attorney in Virginia Allyson KitchelDealing with the loss of a loved one due to someone’s negligence is a painful ordeal. Allyson lost her sister in a car crash, so she understands first hand that families not only grapple with the grief of such a tragedy, but they also encounter financial and legal hurdles along the way. In Virginia, there are avenues for families to pursue justice and compensation through wrongful death claims. By following this process, it becomes possible to hold those accountable and provide financial support to those left behind. 

Having a grasp on the process for wrongful death claims can help families navigating these circumstances. This article aims to present an in-depth guide on wrongful death claims in Virginia, covering aspects such as the legal procedures involved, the specific laws that govern such cases in Virginia, and the types of compensation a wrongful death attorney like Kitchel Law seeks for families.  

Furthermore, we will delve into the role played by a wrongful death attorney, who can offer expert advice and representation, ensuring your rights are safeguarded and you receive rightful compensation. Whether you're just starting to explore your options or already engaged in a wrongful death lawsuit, this guide is crafted to assist and educate you at every stage of the process. 

What is Wrongful Death? 

Wrongful death is a legal claim when someone dies because of another person's actions, negligence, or failure to act. This can happen in various situations like car accidents, medical errors, workplace incidents, and even criminal activities like assault or homicide. The key point is that the death could have been prevented if not for the actions of another party. 

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit? 

Under § 8.01-50, a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed by the personal representative of the deceased's estate. This representative is usually appointed by the court and is often a close family member, such as a spouse, parent, or adult child. If the deceased did not leave a will or did not name a personal representative, the court can appoint one. The personal representative acts on behalf of the deceased's beneficiaries, ensuring their rights are protected and that they receive any compensation awarded. At Kitchel Law, we help our clients through the process of having a representative appointed.  

Virginia's Wrongful Death Statute 

Virginia has specific laws governing wrongful death claims, designed to provide a legal avenue for families seeking justice and compensation for the loss of a loved one. These provisions are outlined under § 8.01-50 of the Code of Virginia. Understanding these laws is important for anyone considering a wrongful death claim, as they spell out who can file a lawsuit, who can receive compensation, and the types of damages that may be awarded. 

The types of wrongful damages that can be awarded are very state specific. The law in Virginia is that the following types of damages shall be awarded: 

  1. Sorrow, mental anguish, and solace which may include society, companionship, comfort, guidance, kindly offices and advice 

  1. Loss of the deceased’s income, services, protection, care and assistance 

  1. Medical expenses related to the injury that caused the death 

  1. Funeral expenses 

  1. In rare cases, punitive damages 

 Wrongful Death Claims Statute of Limitations in Virginia 

The statute of limitations sets a deadline for filing a lawsuit, and in Virginia, the timeframe for filing a wrongful death claim is particularly strict. Under § 8.01-244 of the Code of Virginia, a wrongful death action must be filed within two years from the date of the deceased’s death. This means that if you fail to initiate legal proceedings within this period, you generally forfeit your right to pursue the claim, regardless of its merits. 

Importance of Timely Filing 

The two-year statute of limitations is designed to ensure that cases are brought to court while evidence is still fresh and available. Witnesses’ memories can fade over time, and physical evidence can be lost or deteriorate. Therefore, timely filing is crucial to preserving the integrity of the case and ensuring a fair legal process. 

Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations 

While the two-year rule is stringent, Virginia law provides for certain exceptions that can toll, or pause, the statute of limitations: 

Minors: If the wrongful death claim involves a minor (someone under the age of 18), the statute of limitations may be tolled. This means the two-year period does not begin until the minor reaches the age of 18. This exception acknowledges that minors may not have the legal capacity or understanding to pursue a claim until they become adults. 

Incapacitated Persons: If a potential claimant is mentally or physically incapacitated at the time of the deceased's death, the statute of limitations may be tolled until they regain capacity. This ensures that individuals who are unable to act due to their incapacitation have the opportunity to seek justice once they are capable of doing so. 

Discovery Rule: In certain circumstances, if the cause of the deceased’s death was not immediately apparent and was discovered later, the statute of limitations might start from the date the cause of death was discovered or should have been reasonably discovered. This is less common in wrongful death claims but can apply in cases involving latent injuries or medical malpractice where the connection between the cause and effect is not immediately clear. 

Fraud or Concealment: If the defendant’s actions included fraud or intentional concealment of facts related to the wrongful death, the statute of limitations may be tolled until the fraud is discovered. This prevents defendants from benefiting from their wrongful acts of hiding crucial information. 

Legal Guidance and Considerations 

Given the complexities and potential exceptions to the statute of limitations, it is essential to consult with an experienced wrongful death attorney as soon as possible after the death of a loved one. An attorney can help you understand the specific time limits applicable to your case, identify any potential tolling provisions, and ensure that your claim is filed timely and correctly. 

It is particularly important to seek counsel if someone died as the result of suspected medical malpractice, as investigating a cause of death from medical care is a lengthy process which must be completed before a lawsuit can proceed.  

Delays in seeking legal advice can be detrimental to your case. Even if you believe an exception might apply, it’s crucial to act promptly to gather and preserve evidence, identify witnesses, and build a strong case. Moreover, the opposing parties will likely use any delay to challenge the validity of your claim. 

In conclusion, while Virginia’s statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is generally two years from the date of death, exceptions exist for minors, incapacitated persons, cases involving fraud or concealment, and situations where the cause of death was not immediately known. To navigate these legal intricacies and protect your right to compensation, timely consultation with a knowledgeable attorney is indispensable. 

Common Causes of Wrongful Death 

Wrongful death can occur in a multitude of scenarios, all of which stem from negligence or intentional harm by another party. Understanding these causes is vital for families seeking justice and holding the responsible parties accountable. Common causes include: 

  1. Automobile Accidents: These are among the most frequent causes of wrongful death. They can result from reckless driving, driving under the influence, distracted driving, or failure to adhere to traffic laws. According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, traffic fatalities have been rising, underscoring the importance of safe driving practices. 

  1. Medical Malpractice: This occurs when healthcare professionals fail to provide care that meets the standard of care, leading to fatal outcomes. It can involve misdiagnoses, surgical errors, or medication mistakes. In Virginia, medical malpractice claims are governed by specific statutes that define the scope and limitations of such cases. 

  1. Workplace Accidents: Jobs involving heavy machinery, construction, or hazardous materials pose significant risks. Employers are required to maintain a safe working environment, and failure to do so can lead to tragic incidents. Workers’ compensation laws and other regulations are in place to address these situations. 

  1. Defective Products: Manufacturers are responsible for ensuring their products are safe for consumer use. Defects in design, manufacturing, or failure to provide adequate warnings can result in fatal accidents. Product liability laws help protect consumers from these dangers. 

  1. Criminal Acts: Wrongful deaths can also result from intentional acts such as assaults, robberies, and other violent crimes. Criminal prosecution may occur, but families can also pursue civil wrongful death claims to seek compensation.

How A Wrongful Death Attorney Help Families in Wrongful Death Cases 

At Kitchel Law, we understand the profound impact of losing a loved one unexpectedly. Our compassionate approach is designed to support families through every step of the legal process. Here’s how we can help: 

  1. Legal Guidance and Representation: We provide expert legal advice tailored to the specifics of your case. Our team ensures you understand your rights and the potential outcomes of your claim. We handle all legal aspects, from helping see that a personal representative is appointed, to filing the lawsuit to representing you in court, alleviating some of the burdens during this challenging time. 

  1. Thorough Investigation: We conduct comprehensive investigations to gather evidence that supports your claim. This may involve collecting police reports, medical records, witness statements, and expert testimony. Sometimes we hire private investigators. Our goal is to build a strong case that demonstrates the negligence or wrongful actions of the responsible party. 

  1. Negotiating Settlements: Many wrongful death cases are resolved through settlements. We negotiate with insurance companies and opposing parties to secure a fair settlement that covers your financial losses, including medical expenses, funeral costs, lost income, and emotional suffering. 

  1. Court Representation: If a fair settlement cannot be reached, we are prepared to take your case to court. Our experienced litigators will present a compelling case, advocating for your right to compensation and justice. 

  1. Emotional Support: Beyond legal representation, we offer a compassionate ear and emotional support. Everyone grieves differently, and we have lost loved ones ourselves.  We understand the grieving process and strive to provide a supportive environment where you can feel heard and understood. 

Successful Wrongful Death Cases 

Success in wrongful death cases is measured not only by the financial compensation awarded but also by the sense of justice and closure it brings to grieving families. At Kitchel Law, we have a track record of achieving favorable outcomes for our clients. One notable case highlights our commitment and expertise: 

Wrongful Death Attorney Securing Justice and Compensation for a Family in DC 

In a recent case, we represented the family of DeAngelo Green, a devoted father and DC native who was tragically killed in a collision with a fire truck. Mr. Green was returning to work when the fire truck, traveling 24 miles an hour over the speed limit, ran a red light and collided with his vehicle. The impact was devastating, resulting in Mr. Green's instant death. 

The loss was profoundly felt by his family, including his six children, who relied heavily on him for both emotional and financial support. His untimely death left a significant void, exacerbating the family’s struggles. 

Building a Strong Case 

Our team faced significant challenges in proving liability, as the DC government initially resisted admitting fault. Through meticulous investigation and collaboration with accident reconstruction experts, we demonstrated that the fire truck's excessive speed was a critical factor in the crash. Additionally, we quantified the economic and non-economic losses suffered by the family, including lost wages and the invaluable household services Mr. Green provided. 

Achieving a Landmark Verdict 

Despite the challenges, our perseverance paid off. After a lengthy legal battle and two trials, the jury awarded Mr. Green’s family over $13.57 million. This verdict not only provides financial security for his children but also acknowledges the profound impact of Mr. Green's life on his family and community. 


Dealing with the loss of a loved one is one of life's most challenging experiences, especially when that loss is due to the negligence or wrongful actions of another. The grief and emotional turmoil can be overwhelming, and the added burden of navigating a wrongful death claim can seem insurmountable. At Kitchel Law, we understand the profound pain and sorrow that accompanies such a tragic event. Our mission is to provide not only legal expertise but also heartfelt compassion and unwavering support to families during these difficult times. 

We know that no legal action can ever truly compensate for the loss of a loved one. However, seeking justice can be an important step towards healing and finding a sense of closure. Our dedicated team is here to stand by your side, offering the guidance and support you need to hold the responsible parties accountable and secure the financial support that can help ease some of the burdens your family faces. 

At Kitchel Law, we take the time to listen to your story, understand your unique circumstances, and tailor our approach to meet your needs. We are committed to walking this journey with you, providing compassionate counsel and tireless advocacy. Our goal is to ensure that your loved one's memory is honored and that your family's rights are protected. 

If you have lost a loved one due to another's negligence, we urge you to reach out to us. Let us shoulder the legal complexities so you can focus on healing and remembering the cherished moments you shared with your loved one. Please contact us for a free consultation. We are here to support you every step of the way, with empathy, dedication, and a steadfast commitment to seeking justice on your behalf.