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What is the statute of limitations for wrongful death?

When a person in West Virginia dies in a fatal accident, legal action is not typically the first thing that family members think about. Instead, they are typically preoccupied with trying to say goodbye to their loved one and dealing with the emotional pain that goes along with death. Furthermore, in some cases, the deceased person's family may not even know that a legal cause of action is available in their case.

Although legal filings may not be the first thing on a person's mind following the death of a loved one, state laws are not sympathetic for people who wait too long to file claims. The time limit for filing wrongful death lawsuits in West Virginia is two years after the person's death. Although this time limit is not meant to punish potential litigants in any way, it can mean harsh consequences for those who wait too long to file.

West Virginia's statute of limitations is not the only concern when it comes to waiting to file a wrongful death case. The other major problem with waiting is that the longer a victim's family waits to file, the more difficult it becomes for an attorney to collect meaningful evidence in support of the case.

Nobody can be expected to immediately think about the legal implications of their actions in the immediate aftermath of a loved one's death. However, people in this difficult situation should start to consider their legal options as soon as possible. Otherwise, West Virginia law may have an unpleasant surprise for them when they file.

Source: West Virginia Code, "ยง55-7-6. By whom action for wrongful death to be brought; amount and distribution of damages; period of limitation," Accessed May 12, 2015

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