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Mark Broadwell Nov. 1, 2013

What Is Special About Virginia’s Wrongful Death Law?

You may have heard of the terrifying mass shooting at Virginia Tech University in 2007, which took the lives of 32 people. The University was slow to report a dangerous situation, though the shooter had committed two murders earlier that day. As a result, in the eyes of many family members of those killed, the shooter was able to go on a rampage through campus. A jury apparently agreed, granting a verdict of $4 million to each of two families of slain students. The case brings into view, however, certain aspects of Virginia’s wrongful death law — of which experienced wrongful death lawyers in Newport News are aware.

Although the jury in the Virginia Tech wrongful death case granted a $4 million judgment, the lawyers immediately returned to court to request that that judgment be hugely reduced — to $100,000. Why? Because Virginia law caps wrongful death verdicts at that lower number. Yet this cap is not something that juries are told about prior to their deliberations. Thus, a jury may award an amount well in excess of what the court actually can allow.

This is only one of the complexities to Virginia wrongful death law. For example, there is a two-year statute of limitations in Virginia, meaning that you must assemble your evidence that another’s negligence or cruelty has led to the death of a loved one, and present it to a court within 24 months of that death. A trial or claim may go on well beyond the two-year mark, as in the case of the Virginia Tech lawsuits, and involve the testimony of expert witnesses, people who an experienced Newport News wrongful death attorney can identify and brief for you.

The attorneys of Forbes and Broadwell represent many families through the difficult process of a wrongful death claim. If you have lost a loved one in an accident or other incident, or have been accused of negligently causing the death of another, you need to consult the Newport News wrongful death lawyers of Forbes and Broadwell today.