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When you lose a loved one to wrongful death, it can be difficult to cope. In addition to the grief and loss, you may also need to coordinate their legal claim and handle many other affairs.

Whether your loved one’s death resulted from a motor vehicle accident, or another catastrophic incident, seeking legal action can provide you and your family with the support they need to move forward.

Here’s what you should know about the requirements for a wrongful death claim in Virginia.

Only certain people can make a claim

While other states allow a long list of family members to make a wrongful death claim, Virginia only allows the following people to make a claim:

  • The personal representative of the deceased person
  • The natural mother in fetal death cases
  • The personal representative of the natural mother if both the mother and the fetus are deceased

If your loved one had not appointed an executor to manage their estate, typically, the court will appoint an administrator who can file the claim.

Elements of a claim

To make a wrongful death claim, the following elements must be met:

  • Death of a human
  • Caused by another’s harmful intent or negligence
  • Surviving family members suffering monetary damages

Although there is also a requirement for a personal representative for the deceased’s estate, typically, the court will appoint an administrator if one was not specified at the time of death.

Timing matters

Coping with a loss can be difficult, and you might be tempted to wait before filing a wrongful death claim. It is essential to remember that the statute of limitations on wrongful death claims in Virginia is two years.